FL MORRIS / FMORRIS@STARBULLETIN.COM
The parents of missing Japanese national Masumi Watanabe made a public appeal for information about their daughter yesterday in a news conference . Masumi's mother, Fumiko Watanabe, sobbed as Masumi's father, Hideichi Watanabe, spoke to the press.
Parents make appeal for help
Wiping away tears, the parents of a missing Japanese visitor made their first public appeal for help in finding the body of their daughter.
"As long as you cannot find her body, she cannot rest in peace," said Fumiko Watanabe, the mother of 21-year-old Masumi Watanabe, who was last seen April 12 and is believed to have been murdered.
Her husband, Hideichi, said they have made several trips to Hawaii since their daughter's disappearance, each time leaving flowers at the site in Pupukea where their daughter was last seen walking.
She was last seen April 12 and is believed to have been murdered
They also rent a car and, with the help of friends, visit the sites where her body might be, looking for some sign of her remains.
"When they are in Japan, they are thinking about her," said an interpreter. "When they come here, they want to come close to Masumi because she is still here."
A Kalihi man, Kirk Matthew Lankford, is scheduled to go to trial Feb. 20 for Watanabe's murder, despite the lack of a body.
Lankford maintains his innocence.
Prosecutors have said they believe there is enough circumstantial evidence for a conviction.
Watanabe's blood and glasses were found inside Lankford's work truck and a witness saw Watanabe get in his truck on the morning she disappeared.
Bob Iinuma, a mortgage broker and past president of the United Japanese Society of Hawaii, who has been helping the Watanabe family, said it was a difficult decision for the couple to make a public plea.
He said parents of missing people in Japan do not normally appear in the media.
"What tipped the scale is their unconditional love for their daughter," Iinuma said.
Anyone with information about Watanabe is urged to call CrimeStoppers at 955-8300.
Iinuma has also set up a Web site with information about the case, at www.findmasumi.org.