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Suspect arrested after missing Japanese ESL student found dead in Vancouver

September 30, 2016 - 1:53 PM

VANCOUVER - The mysterious disappearance of a Japanese woman studying English in Vancouver is now a police investigation into her death.

Police announced Friday that the body of 30-year-old Natsumi Kogawa was found on the grounds of an empty heritage mansion in the city's West End.

Police said the woman was last seen in the neighbouring city of Burnaby on Sept. 8 and reportedly spoke with friends the following day. But she wasn't reported missing until Sept. 12.

Kogawa's body was found on the grounds of the vacant Gabriola House on Wednesday, a day after RCMP in Burnaby issued a surveillance photo of a "person of interest" walking with Kogawa on a street in Vancouver.

RCMP described a Caucasian man of medium height with a slight build.

Police said hours after the body was discovered they arrested 48-year-old William Schneider in the Okanagan city of Vernon.

Acting Sgt. Brian Montague of the Vancouver Police Department said the man was believed to be the same person seen in the photo.

Schneider, who is of no fixed address, was charged with committing an indignity to a human body. He remains in custody.

Montague said Kogawa's family in Japan has been notified.

"That is something that should be done with compassion and in person," he said, adding the VPD aimed to limit the possibility that Kogawa's family members would learn about her death from television reports or through social media.

Television news crews from Japan have reported the story from Vancouver, and Montague indicated police were under a great deal of media pressure over the woman's disappearance.

Police would not say what led them to the vacant mansion, adding the discovery of the body and the arrest of the suspect was a direct result of work done by the RCMP in Burnaby.

An autopsy was scheduled for Monday to determine when and how Kogawa died, but few other details could be released.

Montague said further charges may come after the autopsy results are known.

News from © The Canadian Press, 2016
The Canadian Press

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