Suspects' camera shows alleged rapes
With few clues more than a first name, police track down two Japanese men
QUICK THINKING by Honolulu police and federal agents led to the capture of two men who allegedly raped two Japanese women, with the two men detained at Honolulu Airport shortly before one of them was scheduled to depart for Japan.
The two men, Taizo Kirihara, 23, and Goro Miki, 25, both of Japan, were charged with multiple counts of second-degree sexual assault involving two 19-year-old women on Dec. 14.
Armed with the only information the victims had -- the first names of the attackers and the date one of them was leaving -- police and federal agents tracked down the suspects at Honolulu Airport on Dec. 16.
Police recovered a digital camera, which the suspects used to photograph themselves while allegedly sexually assaulting the victims after they passed out in a Waikiki hotel room, according to police.
"There's no doubt about it that this was a sexual assault," said sex assault Detective Fred Denault. "It's rare that this type of crime gets reported ... especially by Japanese tourists.
"But this time we have incriminating evidence of these guys and what they did."
Denault said the victims met the suspects on Dec. 14 and agreed to have coffee with them. Later that evening, the four went back to the victims' hotel room where they drank beer and tequila, he said.
Denault said the women had never drunk tequila before and passed out. When they woke up, their disposable cameras were missing and the photographs they took of the suspects on their digital camera had been deleted.
The women told their tour guide what happened and Honolulu police were called, Denault said.
Responding to the scene was a Waikiki patrol sergeant who found out that all the victims knew about the suspects were their first names. Goro drove a van and Taizo was leaving for Japan on a flight departing on Dec. 16, Denault said.
The sergeant knew a contact with Immigration and Customs Enforcement who, working with U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers, tracked down the only "Taizo" departing that day on Nippon Airways, Denault said. A passport photo of Kirihara was obtained through U.S. Customs visitors and immigration records and the victims said the man in the photo was one of the attackers, he said.
At 8 a.m. the next day, Denault and another detective parked along the curb at the airport and waited.
About 15 minutes later, a van arrived and parked, Denault said. Out stepped a man who matched Taizo Kirihara's photograph, and police identified him as Kirihara and also identified the van driver as Goro. The victims later identified Goro as the second suspect, he said.
While police did not recover the victims' disposable cameras, Denault said they found a digital camera in Goro's property, which allegedly showed both suspects sexually assaulting the victims. One of the women allegedly was attacked after she became sick and passed out in the hotel bathroom, Denault said.
Kirihara was scheduled to be on Oahu for just four days, visiting Miki, who was here for an extended vacation from November to February, according to Denault.
An Oahu grand jury indicted Kirihara and Goro on Dec. 21, Kirihara with 10 counts of second-degree sex assault and one count of third-degree sex assault, and Goro with four counts of second-degree sex assault. Both were held in lieu of $250,000 bail each.
Both men pleaded not guilty in Circuit Court and are scheduled for trial on March 6, according to the city Prosecutor's Office. Customs officials issued a brief press release saying they had assisted in the investigation.
"I give the patrol sergeant who conducted this investigation the full credit," said Denault. "He was on it.
"And the girls had just enough information to make this case."