NAHA, OKINAWA PREF. – Okinawa Prefectural Police said Thursday they have arrested a 32-year-old former U.S. Marine on suspicion of illegally dumping the body of a 20-year-old local woman.
According to police, during interrogation the suspect hinted he murdered the woman and said he dumped the body into a bush.
Police found the body of a woman believed to be Rina Shimabukuro, an office worker from Uruma in the prefecture, in the central village of Onna.
During a news conference late Thursday, police identified the suspect as “Shinzato Kenesu Furankurin.” The English spelling of the name was not immediately available.
The man is now a civilian working at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in Kadena and lives in Yonabaru in Okinawa Prefecture, according to sources.
Shimabukuro has been missing since late April after sending a message on the mobile communications app Line to her boyfriend at around 8 p.m. on April 28 saying she was going for a walk.
The following morning, the boyfriend reported to the Uruma police station that he had lost contact with her.
Police say Shimabukuro left her wallet at home.
According to Okinawa government officials, Lt. Gen. Lawrence Nicholson, III Marine Expeditionary Force commander and the head of U.S. Marines in Okinawa, apologized to Okinawa Vice Gov. Mitsuo Ageda by saying the arrest was “very regrettable” in a telephone conversation later the day.
The GPS information on Shimabukuro’s mobile phone shows she was last confirmed to be in an industrial area near her home in the Suzaki district of Uruma, investigators said.
They said they checked vehicle traffic in the area and determined the civilian worker at the U.S. military base might be connected.
The man, who lives off-base, has voluntarily submitted his car to police for checks, according to sources.
Police are looking for clues that could help them solve the case. They have also made photos of Shimabukuro public.
The United States has four military bases in Uruma, including Camp McTureous and Camp Courtney.