Consultant for defense in Okinawa attempted rape trial is stabbed
CAMP FOSTER, Okinawa — A consultant working for the family of a Marine major on trial for attempted rape was stabbed last week outside an Onna village restaurant.
Gene Warfield, a retired Special Forces soldier, characterized his assailant as a “professional” who may have been trying to scare him off the case.
“He was intent on doing some serious bodily harm,” Warfield said Sunday, four days after the May 7 attack.
“At the very least, I consider a knife attack a case of attempted murder and the timing of the attack at least interesting,” he said. “I have lived on Okinawa for 17 years and have never been assaulted until my involvement in this case.”
Warfield, a 21-year Army veteran now working as a civilian anti-terrorism analyst, was hired by the family of Maj. Michael Brown, said Brown’s mother, Raymonde Brown, a retired foreign service officer.
“I employed Eugene Warfield as a consultant,” she said, “to assist me in looking into the allegations levied against Michael.”
A Filipina who formerly worked at the officers club on Camp Courtney has claimed that Brown assaulted her Nov. 2 when she drove him home after the club closed.
Police have said the woman also accused Brown of throwing her cellular phone into a river when she tried to call police; the major also is charged with destruction of personal property.
Brown, 40, who has been jailed since Dec. 19, has pleaded not guilty to both charges. Warfield contends he has uncovered evidence that exonerates Brown and points to a conspiracy by Okinawa officials opposed to the U.S. presence on the island, where 20 percent of the land is covered by U.S. military bases.
He declined to disclose specifics, including which officials he contends are involved.
When asked to comment on Warfield’s claim, an Okinawa police spokesman in Ishikawa said: “It is impossible."
“I never heard anything as such,” he said, adding that Warfield did not identify himself as involved in the Brown case.
“No detailed questioning on the victim [Warfield] has been done yet,” the police spokesman said.
“There was a brief questioning of him and his wife on the day the incident occurred and he gave police a doctor’s report. But he gave no other such details, as far as I know.”
Okinawa’s prefectural government has used the case to demand changes in the status of forces agreement that regulates how U.S. servicemembers shall be treated by Japan. The government wants immediate jurisdiction of servicemembers accused of crimes off base.
Warfield said officers from Ishikawa Police Station interviewed him at the hospital. An initial police report on the assault was brief. The assailant is unknown, it stated, and no evidence suggested a motive. The report did not identify Warfield as an American. Monday, a police spokesman said there are no leads on a suspect.
According to a Chubu Hospital report, Warfield was treated for a nick on the left side of his neck and a stab wound to the left shoulder, just behind his armpit.
The consultant said he was attacked about 7:30 p.m. May 7 as he was taking his Japanese wife and 16-year-old stepdaughter to an Onna restaurant to celebrate his wife’s birthday.
“The attacker was the driver of a van that had followed me as I drove to the restaurant,” he said, adding that the van had sped behind him along Highway 58, almost hitting several vehicles as it weaved through traffic. “At the time I thought he was some insane driver.”
Warfield said when he turned into the restaurant parking lot, the van stopped by the side of the road. The driver got out and blocked Warfield’s car.
“I got out of my car and he quickly closed the distance between us,” Warfield said. “He circled to my left and took a fighting stance, like a real pro. I just caught a glimpse of a butterfly knife in his right hand.”
The American credits his Special Forces training with his jerking his head in time to avoid the knife slashing past his face. A second pass nicked Warfield on the neck but the American said he was injured again when the attacker jammed the knife into his arm, near the armpit.
Warfield said he kicked the attacker away; they wrestled briefly before Warfield’s wife jumped on the man from behind as his stepdaughter called out that she’d phoned police.
“Hearing that, he folded his knife and put it into his right front pants pocket,” Warfield said. “As he walked briskly back to his van — he did not run — he pulled out a dark blue cellular phone and called someone.”
“I don’t think this as some guy filled with road rage,” Warfield said. “He was too cool, too confident. He fought like a professional, like he had some training.”
Warfield said he believes his attacker had been following him. The consultant said he had trained at the FBI Academy while in Special Forces. “I am not a professional investigator,” he said. “But I learned how to identify people following me.”
Warfield, 47, works as an anti-terrorism and force protection analyst for Sytex, a Pennsylvania-based Department of Defense contractor.
The Ishikawa spokesman verified the attack took place and that police seek a Japanese man in his early 40s driving a light gray or dirty white van. Warfield, his wife and stepdaughter each had noted the van’s license number as the attacker drove away, but he said police told him it matched no tag on file.
“That’s mighty suspicious in itself,” said Michael Griffith, one of Brown’s attorneys. Griffith, of Southampton, N.Y., suggested the van may have been used by police for undercover work — an implication Okinawa police denied, repeating that the license numbers matched no existing vehicle registrations.
“They may have seen it wrong,” a police spokesman said. “For instance, they could have misread a 3 as an 8. Or the license plate itself could have been forged by changing 3 to 8, or 6 to 9.
“At any rate,” he said, “an investigation is under way including these possibilities.”
Chiyomi Sumida contributed to this report.