Parents of slain Japanese tourist make tearful plea for body at convicted killer's sentencing - Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

Parents of slain Japanese tourist make tearful plea for body at convicted killer's sentencing

Kirk Lankford Kirk Lankford
Masumi Watanabe Masumi Watanabe
Karl Sakamoto Karl Sakamoto
Hideichi Watanabe Hideichi Watanabe

By Minna Sugimoto - bio | email

HONOLULU (KHNL) - The parents of a murdered Japanese tourist tearfully begged the convicted killer to lead them to her body Thursday.

The plea came as Kirk Lankford was sentenced to life in prison with the possibility of parole.

A soft-spoken couple travels from Japan to face their daughter's killer.

Inside the courtroom, Kirk Lankford shares a light moment with his attorney before he's sentenced for murdering Masumi Watanabe.

"You killed off her soul and her life. I do not think you ever give any second thought to what you did," Hideichi Watanabe, victim's father, said through an interpreter. "I will not be able to forgive you."

The former pest control technician maintains the 21-year-old died after she jumped out of his moving truck. He says he kept her in a box in the back of the truck for 12 hours, and later dumped the body in waters off Kualoa, because he was afraid to lose his job.

Her body hasn't been found.

"Please return Masumi to us," Fumiko Watanabe, victim's mother, said through an interpreter. "Even after all of this, we still bow humbly to you, to beg and plead to show us some way that we can return her remains to her hometown in Japan."

"What I did was wrong, but I did not kill Masumi Watanabe," Lankford told the court. "I'm sorry for the grieving that her family is going through."

The judge calls Lankford a predator, and says he needs to start showing humanity and compassion if he wants to get out of prison someday.

"That can be shown with the revelation of where Ms. Watanabe's remains are," Karl Sakamoto, Circuit judge, said. "You are in the exclusive control of that knowledge."

"The police, on a dream, will get up and go search somewhere," Howard Lankford, convicted murderer's father, said. "But have they gone out there and went diving around Chinaman's Hat to see what they could find? I suspect not."

The Watanabes hope no one forgets what happened to their only daughter.

"(This case) should be remembered in the hearts of all Hawaiian people," Hideichi Watanabe said.

The Hawaii parole board will decide how much time Lankford must serve before he's eligible for release.

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