Memphis Christian musician Richard Hinds (19) suspected of killing Nicola Furlong
THIS is the 19-year-old Memphis, Tennessee musician who has admitted to Japanese police to strangling DCU student Nicola Furlong in a five star Tokyo hotel last month – but he said he didn’t mean to kill her.
Richard Hinds, is a keyboards player who only graduated from Central High School Memphis last year.
He joined the world tour of Japanese/American hip hop star AI along with his older brother Claude (24) on a trip of a lifetime. AI played Tokyo the night before Nicki Minaj whose concert Nicola (21) attended before she died.
Hinds is a well known Christian musician in the Memphis area, according to ABC News affiliate WPTY-TV in Memphis. He planned to return home on June 20, before he was arrested.
As he is still recognized as a minor by Japanese law, his name has not been released, a spokesman for the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department said.
He was previously wrongly identified as Larry Perry and his family have been trying to get him back to the United States from Japan, according to musicjunkie.com
Hinds’ friend and youth minister Karlos Nichols tells News Channel 3 Hinds is “an amazing and extremely talented person. Richard is very talented and honest, and he has been very consistent all the years I’ve known him.”
Nichols says Hinds’ family hasn’t talked to him yet and is working to get him home.
In March, Hinds, a committed Christian, left the Bluff City for Tokyo and the opportunity for thousands of people to hear his music every night. A friend, who didn't want to be identified, said, "Even with him going overseas he was prayerful about it, it wasn't just a 'I got a good gig.' He's not the gigging type, he just gives his gift back, gives his talent back."
The friend said Hinds was like a brother to him. "When I read the story I started putting things together, I said surely not. Surely this isn't happening, a piece of my heart broke, because I don't know that person that the media is trying to portray. I don't know that person."
Claude Hinds is a well established Memphis musician and his younger brother Richard was delighted to join him on the AI tour.
"They auditioned and they meet the criteria that the music director is looking for. So, they showed proficiency in being able to play the songs and play them well," the Hinds' brothers musical mentor Ralph Sutton told MyFoxNews in Memphis.
Hinds. who is being treated as a minor and is not named under Japanese law, has been captured on the CCTV of the Keio Plaza Hotel in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district, wheeling the student to his room in a wheelchair at around 1am.
According to the news agency AFP, the recording appears to show Wexford student Nicola unconscious in the wheelchair and police are continuing to work on the theory that her drink had been spiked. Toxicology reports are expected in about a week's time.
The footage also appears to confirm that nobody else entered the room before hotel staff discovered her body in the early hours of the morning.
Police said the suspect has admitted that he pressed her neck with his hands but insisted that he did not intend to kill the victim, Jiji Press news agency reported.
A second man, James Blackston (23), a dancer from Los Angeles, is no longer a suspect in her death but has been held in custody in relation to a separate assault charge regarding the molestation of Nicola’s friend.
Both Irish girls were studying in the city of Takasaki, about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo.
Further charges are expected today in the case after both men were rearrested yesterday.
The Furlong family has expressed its confidence in the Tokyo police's ability to bring a successful prosecution.
"Hopefully on Friday charges will be brought forward against these two guys; that is what we have been told," said her uncle Denis Corrigan.
He added: "They are ready to go with more serious charges but what those are going to be I couldn't tell you."
Meanwhile, Nicola's home community in Curracloe, Co Wexford, has rallied to support the family and a bank account for donations in support of expenses they are likely to incur from travelling to a future court case in the Japanese capital has been set up.
It is unclear whether or not Nicola's friend will be required to return to the country but that decision is understood to lie with the official prosecutor -- rather than with the police, who are satisfied with her assistance to date.
The family has been told that the formal court process is likely to get under way next month and that a trial date would be set down for about six months after that.
Money raised in aid of the family that does not go towards expenses will likely be channelled into a Nicola Furlong scholarship.
"The plan is to sponsor a student to go to DCU in her name or something like that -- to keep her name alive and hopefully some girl will benefit from it in the future," said Mr Corrigan.
Donations can be made to the Nicola Furlong Memorial Account at Bank of Ireland in Wexford -- account number 9738 2577, sort code 90-67-18.