Former Marine confesses to strangling missing woman
According to Okinawa Prefectural Police investigators, the 32-year-old former U.S. Marine, who was arrested Thursday on suspicion of dumping the body of a 20-year-old Rina Shimabukuro, has admitted to strangling her.
Police identified the arrested as Kennets Franklin Shinzato, an American former Marine, who was currently working as a civilian contractor on Kadena Air Base. He is living in Yonabaru Town with his wife and child.
Investigators say they have found DNA matching the victim in the suspect’s car. They suspect that Shinzato strangled the woman, and then dumped her body in a wooded area in Onna Village. Based on Shinzato’s confession, police found Shimabukuro’s corpse under roadside undergrowth.
Police are planning to charge Shinzato with murder once they conduct a mandatory autopsy to identify the cause of the death.
The murder came to a sensitive time to the Japanese Government just ahead of the Group of Seven leaders’ summit in Mie Prefecture. The government summoned U.S. Ambassador Caroline Kennedy to the Foreign Ministry and the top U.S. military commander in Japan, Lt. Gen. John Dolan to the Defense Ministry to lodge protests over the incident.
Okinawa Governor Takeshi Onaga who has been at loggerheads with the central government over the planned relocation of the MCAS Futenma to Henoko, was returning from a trip to the U.S. and spoke of “extreme sorrow” and “anger” when he met reporters at Narita Airport. He urged U.S. and Japanese officials to listen to the people of Okinawa regarding the Futenma relocation issue. “This incident has occurred precisely because the bases are on Okinawa,” Onaga said.
Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, the top commander of the U.S. military on Okinawa, also phoned Okinawa Vice Governor Mitsuo Ageda to apologize for the arrest.