National / Crime & Legal

Rape-murder warrant set to be served to U.S. Okinawa base worker over woman's slaying

Kyodo

Police in Okinawa plan to serve a fresh arrest warrant on a detained civilian U.S. base worker on suspicion of rape and murder on Thursday in connection with the death of a 20-year-old local woman in April, investigative sources said Tuesday.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato, a 32-year-old former U.S. Marine, has been initially arrested for allegedly dumping the body of the victim, and Thursday is the deadline for his detention over the initial charge.

The further move is envisioned by the police at a time when the crime has ignited anger among citizens in Okinawa, home to the bulk of U.S. military facilities in Japan, sparking many protests in the island prefecture and sending U.S. and Japanese officials into crisis mode.

The sources said Shinzato is alleged to have raped the woman in a grassy field on a roadside in Uruma, Okinawa, on the night of April 28 before killing her. The victim had gone for a walk at the time.

Shinzato was arrested on May 19 on suspicion of dumping her body in a wooded area in the village of Onna, also in Okinawa, sometime between April 28 and 29.

The former Marine, who worked at the U.S. Kadena Air Base in the prefecture, told investigators he had hit the woman on the head from behind and stabbed her multiple times.

Shinzato also said he abandoned the body in the wooded area after the victim stopped moving, according to the sources.

The police have confirmed multiple traces on the bones of the victim’s torso that are believed to have been caused by the impact of a blade, the sources said.

On his smartphone, Shinzato had also kept an image showing on the victim’s smartphone of a social networking site linked to her, the sources said.

The police identified the grassy area in Uruma as the spot where the killing is believed to have occurred after analyzing the location information embedded in the image and other information.

The police now allege Shinzato assaulted the woman around 10 p.m. on April 28, taking into consideration security footage obtained around the site. They found an earphone belonging to the victim in the undergrowth, according to the sources.

Although Shinzato stopping talking shortly after his arrest, the police have determined they can bring a murder charge against him using circumstantial evidence, the sources said.

The victim’s corpse was found on May 19 after the police searched the wooded area in Onna based on Shinzato’s statement.

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