Monday, Aug. 15, 2022 |
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Police have suspect in custody
By Tom Finnegan – The Garden Island
A compassionate physician who brought a homeless man and his disabled stepson into his home was killed Sunday night, apparently at the hands of the man he was trying to help, according to the victim’s wife.
Retired Dr. Jon Kerns, 64, of Waimea Valley, and another person, identified by witnesses and police sources as the suspect’s mentally handicapped stepson, were taken to Kauai Veterans Memorial Hospital in Waimea to be treated for stab wounds at around 10:10 p.m. Sunday night, according to police sources.
Kerns was pronounced dead, but the younger man, whom police did not identify and would only describe as a local male, was expected to be released yesterday, officials said.
The suspect, identified by witnesses as Raymond Earl Ard, 39, was taken into custody around 9 a.m. yesterday.
Kaua‘i Police Department officials would not confirm Ard’s identity, as he had not been formally charged as of last night. Police records, though, indicate that Ard would be charged with second-degree murder and second-degree attempted murder.
A devastated Claudia Kerns, wife of Dr. Jon Kearns, said yesterday Ard, whom she did not identify by name, had been invited by her and her husband to stay in their rental home because he and his son were “living in the fields.”
As of three years ago, when he was featured in The Garden Island, Ard was a taro farmer in Waimea Valley.
According to Claudia Kerns, Ard “went crazy” Sunday night, she said, and accused the Kerns of being “Satan.” “He lured John into the house, and he killed him,” Claudia Kerns claimed.
A teenage neighbor heard Claudia Kerns’ screams and, with another neighbor, went to check what was happening.
The neighbor, a student at Waimea High School, said he saw the doctor on the floor of the home before going out-side to comfort the victim’s wife.
The student said the man whom he knew as “Ray” was not around, and Ray’s stepson, who appeared to be a teenager, did not appear to be severely injured.
The incident was a shock, the neighbor said, adding that he never thought this would happen.The student also added that, while he wasn’t close to “Ray,” he would wave to him when the two would pass each other. He added that Ray and his stepson had been at the Kerns’ residence for a few months.
“I never thought he would do that,” he continued.
Kerns, he said, would stop and talk-story when they ran into each other.
Claudia Kerns, who was being supported throughout the day yesterday by members of her church, Eleele Baptist, said that Kaua‘i has lost a wonderful, caring man.
“He was an excellent, beautiful man,” she said, her voice hoarse over the phone. “You don’t know what I’ve lost.”
Dr. Kerns was an internist who worked at the Doctor’s Medical Center, formerly Brookside Hospital, in San Pablo, in the San Francisco Bay Area of California.
Dr. Ronald Sato, medical director of the Burn and Wound Center at Doctor’s Medical Center, worked with Dr. Kerns for over 15 years.
Sato said Kerns, “his medical counterpart,” was a dependable and caring doctor. Sato said he worked hand-in-hand with Kerns, as Sato, a plastic surgeon, performed surgery, while Kerns took care of post-operation care and general medicine.
“He was very kind and compassionate. He had a lot of empathy,” which is rare for a doctor, Sato said.
Sato added that Kerns “was a very giving person. I could always depend on him. I could always count on him for medical support.”
Besides his medical practice, Dr. Kerns also donated a lot of time to the community, and was involved with police and fire benevolent associations in California, his wife said. He was also involved in the community, and with his church in his new home as well.
Dr. Kerns and his wife moved to Kaua‘i about three years ago, after the two of them retired, Claudia Kerns said. But they were no strangers to aloha.
“He loved Hawai‘i,” said Sato, himself born and raised in Honolulu. “He always had his retreat once a year. He loved the islands.”
“It’s a real tragedy,” he added.
Detectives and patrol officers worked throughout the night to find the suspect, who was found by patrol officers in Kaumakani early Monday morning.
“They worked since 10:30 (Sunday) night, and are still working in the field on the case at 5 p.m. (Monday),” said KPD Chief K.C. Lum yesterday evening. “They were here with droopy eyes, and they still went (back) out” to gather more information.
“I’m trying to find words. I can’t,” said the chief. “They’re just good.”
He also credited the hard work of the patrol officers, who combed the Westside looking for the suspect throughout Sunday night and Monday morning. Patrol officers found the suspect yesterday morning, Lum said.
Tom Finnegan, staff writer, may be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 252) or email@example.com.
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