Former Marine charged with murder, rape in Okinawa woman’s death
NAHA, Okinawa — A former Marine who works as a contractor at Kadena Air Base was officially charged Thursday with murder and rape resulting in death in the slaying of a 20-year-old Okinawa woman.
Kenneth Franklin Gadson had been held since May 19 and was charged earlier this month with illegally disposing of Rina Shimabukuro’s body, which was found in a wooded area, based on information that Gadson provided. Police have said he went cruising in his car for a stranger to attack and killed the woman during her nightly walk.
Police say Gadson, armed with a stick and a knife, struck the victim “with murderous intent” on the head from behind just before midnight on April 29, pulled her into bushes, then strangled and stabbed her while attempting to rape her. She died before he could finish the sexual assault.
Kenryo Tomari, chief of the police Crime Investigations department, called the attack “premeditated.”
Police earlier said they brought in Gadson for questioning after spotting his red SUV on surveillance video from the area where Shimakuburo vanished.
Defense attorney Toshimitsu Takaesu has said Gadson, who goes by his wife’s family name Shinzato, admitted he strangled the woman but made the statement to police while still dazed from a suicide attempt with sleeping pills.
The incident sent off a cascade of apologies from U.S. officials and restrictions on U.S. servicemembers. It also tainted President Barack Obama’s visit to Japan for the G7 summit last month.