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Grandfather’s death leads to homicide arrest

By Staff | Nov 19, 2011

Garrett Kern is being charged with second degree homicide in the death of his grandfather James Arthur, based on information from the Lee County Medical Examiner’s office, Cape police said Friday.

Kern, 24, was expected to be back in Lee County on Friday after being transported from Chicago, where he was captured by federal marshals.

Lt. Anthony Sizemore from the CCPD could not comment on the cause of death or the forensics evidence as the investigation is still ongoing.

“We don’t want anything to jeopardize the investigative process on the case,” Sizemore said.

Kern will be held without bond once in custody in Lee County, according to Sizemore.

The Medical Examiner’s office will decide when to release the cause of the death, he added.

“That will be a critical piece of evidence,” Sizemore said.

The disappearance of James Arthur, 80, in late October sparked a search, not only for the octogenarian, but for his grandson, Kern.

Arthur’s body was discovered on Nov. 4 off the 200 Block of Burnt Store Road by a resident out for a walk.

Arthur was last seen on Oct. 27 leaving the probation office in downtown Fort Myers with Kern. He had driven Kern to a probation appointment.

According to police, Kern was seen later that afternoon at the BA Hustlers Pool Hall on Santa Barbara Boulevard South. He was driving his grandfather’s car – a 2009, dark gray Volvo S80 – but Arthur was not present.

While at the Cape pool hall, Kern reportedly made statements to people present that gave rise to concern for the welfare of his grandfather.

Police named Kern as a person of interest in Arthur’s disappearance, also believing that he had fled the area in his grandfather’s Volvo. A warrant was issued for his arrest on the charges of grand theft auto based off of that. Kern then made Southwest Florida Crime Stoppers’ 10 Most Wanted List.

Kern was eventually apprehended outside of a shelter in Chicago by U.S. Marshals.

Kern’s Volvo was discovered in Crisp County, Georgia, in the parking lot of a dollar store on Nov. 7.

Cape detectives drove to Crisp County and took custody of the vehicle. It was loaded onto a flatbed truck and driven back to Cape Coral and stored at the police department’s secure facility, where it was examined for forensics evidence.

Staff Reporter Tiffany Repecki contributed to this report.