Masumi Watanabe's Grieving Mother Testifies at Murder Trial

Fumiko Watanabe
Fumiko Watanabe

HONOLULU (KHNL) -- A grieving woman from Japan testified at the trial of her daughter's alleged killer Wednesday.

An emotional Fumiko Watanabe took the witness stand and described the youngest of her three children, Masumi, to an Oahu jury. The 21-year-old went missing last year, and is presumed dead.

Kirk Lankford of Kalihi is accused of her murder.

Fumiko Watanabe says she and her husband have a painting business in the slow-pace, low-crime community of Sado Island, Japan. She says she sent her daughter to stay with relatives on Oahu to make her more independent.

"She was shy," the victim's mother said through an interpreter.

Masumi Watanabe went for a walk in Pupukea last April, and never returned.

"I was very, you know, sad," Fumiko Watanabe said. "And I didn't know what to do."

Prosecutors say Kirk Lankford was a pest control employee working in the area, and that investigators found the victim's prescription glasses and blood during a search of his truck.

Fumiko Watanabe says she doesn't think her shy daughter would get into a stranger's truck voluntarily.

"Even it was an emergency situation, she never get into a truck held by an unknown person," she said.

The defense asks whether Masumi would accept a ride if she was hit by a truck and injured, and needed to get to a hospital. Mrs. Watanabe says under that scenario, her daughter might get into the vehicle.

Yumi Miura, who was Masumi's host on Oahu, testifies about the day she disappeared.

"I went to look for her, but I couldn't find," Miura said, choking back tears. "And then my husband went to look for her, but he couldn't find. And then my neighbor went to look for her, and they couldn't find her."

The trial continues Thursday.