Three years after the murder of Japanese pan player Asami Nagakiya, the T&T Police Service’s Cold Case Unit has found new information which can help solve the case.
Head of the Unit ACP Anthony James confirmed the police had gotten information which “points in a certain direction” ahead of today’s third anniversary of the discovery of Nagakiya’s body.
“There may be some light at the end of this tunnel,” James added.
Nagakiya, 31, of Sapporo-shi, Hokkaido, had been coming to T&T since 2009 to play with steelbands.
In 2016, she had also played mas with Legacy’s Carnival band. Her body was found by a CEPEP worker on Ash Wednesday—February 9—at the base of a tree in the Queen’s Park Savannah. She was still clad in her Legend’s costume.
An autopsy revealed she had been strangled. Police estimated she had died sometime between Carnival Tuesday night and Ash Wednesday. Nagakiya was last seen alive on Carnival Tuesday around 6.15 pm walking with a man near Picton Court, Newtown.
TTPS’ Homicide division which probed the matter, interviewed various people in T&T as well as in Japan and had sought CCTV footage from areas where Nagakiya’s body was found.
Yesterday, homicide officials told Guardian Media, available CCTV footage did not capture anything. A 31-year-old man who was interviewed by police in connection with the crime was killed in a robbery attempt nine months after Nagakiya died.
The case was taken up by the Cold Case Unit in 2017 when that division formed.
ACP James said “This is a front-burner issue for us—priority—because we understand the tragedy involved as well as the amount of international attention it has received. It’s always in my conversation with the team. We believe it can be solved particularly on the basis of scientific evidence—swabs, DNA tests, etc—we’re depending heavily on that.”
“It points in certain directions but we have to properly go over all evidence. We’ve made certain recommendations on the matter. We also hope the National Operations Centre will review anything they have on CCTV footage.”
James said the Unit is prepared to cast its interview net again and even re-interview people. The case is one of approximately 120 cases which Unit—comprising homicide and other officers—is handling.
Japanese Embassy official Chiharu Hoshiai said, “We’re aware the investigation into Ms Nagakiya’s death is still underway, and we remain hopeful this case will be solved soon.”
Nagakiya’s colleagues at Silver Stars Steel Orchestra—the last steelband she had played with —say they still miss her, remember her and remain hopeful “always”.
The Woodford Street property where Nagakiya resided before her death remains unoccupied. On Thursday, workers trimmed Savannah trees in the area where Nagakiya’s body was found—including the one which had sheltered her body.