Murder Suspect Loses Job

HONOLULU (KHNL) - We're learning more about the Kalihi man who was arrested in connection with the disappearance of a Japanese visitor.

On Thursday, police arrested him on suspicion of murder.

In a statement, his former employer, Hauoli Termite & Pest Control, says, "we join with the rest of the community in offering our thoughts and prayers to the friends and family of Masumi Watanabe and we will continue to cooperate fully with authorities in this investigation."

Lankford began working there as a technician in August of 2003 but has since been terminated.

Police arrested him at his Kalihi home late Thursday afternoon. Sources say Watanabe's blood was found in Lankford's truck. The 21-year-old Japanese woman disappeared two weeks ago when she went for a walk on Pupukea Road. Her family arrived in Hawaii shortly after.

"I think they're terribly grieved after the news they received yesterday," said Makoto Hinei, senior consul of the General Consulate of Japan.

He says the Watanabe family is asking for their privacy at this time. They still have hope their daughter may be alive. Police have not yet found her body.

"It's not the kind of thing that happens everyday. It shouldn't," said Hinei.

Police have until 5 p.m. Saturday to charge Lankford.