searching for killer
of free spirit
Jay Kammerer has been laidBy Rod Thompson
to rest, but his family won't be
at peace until the myster of
his death is solved
HILO -- The ashes of John Joseph "Jay" Kammerer, a free spirit with an inclination for art and agriculture, lie peacefully in his home state of Virginia.
John Paul Kammerer, Jay's father, is not at peace.
He wants to know who killed his son about the time of his 29th birthday, Jan. 11, 1994, and dumped his body in an old volcanic crater in Puna.
John Kammerer knew something was wrong after Christmas 1993 when his ex-wife said a letter with a money order she sent to Jay was returned unopened, he said by telephone from Virginia.
In March 1994, John Kammerer received a call from a friend of Jay's saying no one had seen him for months. The friend reported Jay missing March 17, 1994.
On June 14, 1997, two people looking for old bottles found human bones inside Puulena Crater, 1,500 feet off Pohoiki Road, said police Lt. Francis Rodillas.
The bones were wrapped in unidentified material, partially overgrown with vegetation. The person died from a blow to the skull, but there was nothing to identify him, Rodillas said.
Police tried to match the skeleton's teeth to dental records of missing persons, but Jay's records were lost, Kammerer said.
The bones were submitted to a forensic anthropologist who estimated what the person looked like. Kammerer said Jay was about 6 feet tall, liked to ski and play football as a schoolboy.
In 1987, Jay was in a fight and was treated at Honokaa Hospital. A sample of his blood was stored there.
Police sent the blood and bone samples to the FBI for DNA tests, which confirmed the identity of his bones last month, Rodillas said.
A Catholic Mass was said for him in Virginia, followed by cremation and burial of the ashes Jan. 8, Kammerer said.
"It was a very beautiful thing," Kammerer said. "It was very dignified. I'm still bereaving a little. My only son was murdered."
An employee of Xerox Corp., John Kammerer raised his family in Virginia, moved them to Pennsylvania, to Rochester, N.Y., and back to Virginia.
Jay began winning art awards in nursery school and continued through high school, his mother, Joan, said in court documents.
He tested high enough to attend an academically challenging Jesuit high school in Rochester, but refused to go because it was for boys only, his father said.
By his mother's wish, Jay was raised as a Lutheran and Methodist, "a good moral upbringing," his father said.
He came to Hawaii in 1983 when he was 18, following his parents' divorce.
Friends visiting in 1985 found him growing vegetables to support himself, court records show. He told authorities he did jobs for cash.
He telephoned and traveled home periodically, Kammerer said.
Court records show he also got into trouble. When he was treated at Honokaa Hospital, he was charged with stabbing a man.
Jay pleaded no contest, moved to Virginia on probation, disappeared, and was rearrested in Hawaii where he was allowed into a work release program.
The court ordered him to undergo counseling for "dealing with stressful situations."
In 1991, court records show Jay was the victim of an assault. The attacker was jailed but allowed out on work release. An arrest warrant in 1992 and two in 1995 failed to locate the man.
His father said, "I didn't know the people he hung with. He was a nomad. He'd shift around a lot."
In 1988, Jay told authorities, "I'm more or less an independent soul."
Police ask anyone with knowledge of Jay Kammerer to contact them at 961-2378.