Fla. man wanted in grandfather's disappearance arrested in Chicago

Tribune reporter

A Florida man wanted in connection with the disappearance of his grandfather was arrested at a Chicago homeless shelter Thursday, only hours before his grandfather’s body was found in their hometown, authorities said.

Garrett Kern, 23, of Cape Coral, Fla., was arrested at 1 p.m. Thursday at a homeless shelter in the 1400 block of South Canal Street, according to Chicago Police.

A few hours later Thursday, a body identified today as Kern’s grandfather, James Arthur, 80, was found near a nature preserve in Cape Coral, almost a week after Arthur disappeared on Oct. 27. An autopsy was performed today, but a cause of death has not yet been determined for Arthur, police said.

On Oct 27, after the two were seen leaving their home together that morning and Kern attended a probation meeting, according to Cape Coral police.

After Kern appeared for his probation appointment, witnesses saw him at a pool hall, driving his grandfather’s Volvo but without his grandfather, according to a release from Cape Coral police.
At the pool hall, “Kern made statements to patrons giving rise to concern for the welfare of his grandfather,” police said in the first news release issued regarding Arthur’s disappearance.

Early the next morning, someone tried to use one of Arthur’s credit cards to buy gas in Gainesville, Fla.

On Monday, Cape Coral police said Kern was “a person of interest” in his grandfather’s disappearance. Police said Kern had been raised by his grandparents since he was 3 years old.

Kern previously had apparently spent time in Illinois — he has a warrant out for his arrest in LaSalle County, for failure to appear in a drug case — and Cape Coral police worked with the Great Lakes Fugitive Task Force to track him down, according to police.

The task force learned Kern, who was wanted in connection to the theft of his grandfather’s car and for questioning in his grandfather’s disappearance, had no money, and that he might be living on the street, according to Chicago police. Task force members began searching homeless shelters and tracked him down.

After Kern’s arrest by Chicago police and U.S. marshals, two Cape Coral police detectives flew here to question Kern, according to Cape Coral police.

Kern was scheduled to appear in Cook County Central Bond Court on Saturday, according to Chicago Police.


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