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Okinawa police: U.S. civilian in custody in woman’s death attempted suicide

Police arrested Kenneth Shinzato for allegedly abandoning the body of Rina Shimabukuro on Thursday
Police arrested Kenneth Shinzato for allegedly abandoning the body of Rina Shimabukuro on Thursday

OKINAWA (TR) – Investigative sources with the Okinawa Prefectural Police said on Friday that a male U.S. civilian employee at Kadena Air Base in custody in the death of a 20-year-old woman from Uruma City attempted to take his own life, reports the Asahi Shimbun (May 20).

Following voluntary questioning, Kenneth Shinzato, 32, who is currently in custody in the alleged abandonment of the body of Rina Shimabukuro, attempted suicide twice by taking a large quantity of sleeping pills and alcohol.

On Thursday, police found the body of Shimabukuro, who had been reported missing since last month, in a grove of trees in the village of Onna. Her clothing had a number of holes consistent with a stabbing, police said.

Police subsequently arrested Shinzato, a former member of the U.S. Marine Corps who lives in the town of Yonabaru, on charges of abandoning a corpse. “I dumped her motionless body in the trees,” the suspect was quoted by police in admitting the charges. He also told police that he stabbed Shimabukuro with a knife.

On the evening of April 28, Shimabukuro informed her boyfriend by phone that she was headed out for a walk. When she failed to return, he reported her missing with police the following day.

During the investigation, police learned that Shimabukuro’s smartphone stopped transmitting data between one and three kilometers from her residence. After an examination of security camera footage in the area, a vehicle within the U.S. armed forces and driven by Shinzato came under scrutiny.

On Monday, questioning of Shinzato began on a voluntary basis. The following morning, the suspect attempted to take his own life by intaking a large quantity of sleeping pills and was rushed to a hospital. He was hospitalized again on Wednesday after he consumed two bottles of whiskey.

“After the voluntary questioning on the 16th, he was mentally unstable and tried to commit suicide,” Shinzato’s lawyer is quoted.

On Thursday, police determined that a DNA analysis of material taken from the vehicle proved to be a match with that of Shimabukuro. Some of the material found in the vehicle included blood. It was on this day that Shinzato confessed to dumping Shimabukuro’s body and informed police of the location.

On Friday, Kadena Air Base released an announcement about the arrest of a civilian employee on Facebook. “Our heartfelt prayers and condolences are with the victim’s family, friends, and loved ones,” the message said. “We also send our deepest sympathies to the people of Japan and express our gratitude for the trust that they place in our bilateral alliance and the people of the United States.”