Saturday 21 April 2018

Tokyo hotel murder: Dad reveals student Nicola Furlong didn’t want to leave Ireland

James Blackston
Nicola Furlong Confirmed
Nicola Furlong
Nicola Furlong
Nicola Furlong
James Blackston
James Blackston
James Blackston
James 'King Tight' Blackston: in custody


THE father of the young student brutally killed in Japan last week has spoken for the first time of his heartbreak at losing his "best friend".

Andrew Furlong said Nicola (21) was a “homebird” who did not want to move to Japan last September.

She had been in daily contact with her family ever since.

Nicola had returned home for Christmas, and was back in Wexford again earlier this year – staying for seven weeks.

Ms Furlong, who was in Japan on a student exchange, was found dead in a hotel in Tokyo last Wednesday.

Two Americans remain in custody after being charged with assaulting a female friend of Ms Furlong, and are being questioned about events in the lead-up to Nicola’s death.

“We were the best of friends,” her heartbroken father said.

“She was always at my side. She would light up a room.

“Out of everyone that I know nobody’s ever had a bad word to say about her. She never wanted to be there,” he added.

“She and (her friend) were inseparable, though.

“She also met two German girls who were doing the course out there as well. She was coming home at the end of July. She was to go on to do her fourth year in Dublin and she would have had her degree.”

Nicola’s remains are expected to be brought home tomorrow..

Mr Furlong said he learned of his daughter’s death last Thursday morning. “The gardai arrived at the door. I thought it must have been about something to do with my car,” he said. “When I heard the news I said, ‘Oh Jesus’. It never dawned on me. It shook me to the floor.”

Ms Furlong, from Curracloe, went to college in Dublin City University and was studying business and languages before going to Japan.

Mr Furlong said he last spoke to Nicola on the day before she died, when she said she was looking forward to taking a trip to Tokyo – about 100km from where she was studying in Takasaki – for a concert by popular American rap artist Nicki Minaj.

“She had really been looking forward to seeing it,” he told the ‘Wexford Echo’.

“She said it was a small concert with only 2,000 people and that she was hoping to get into the after-party to meet her.”

However, Ms Furlong died at some stage in the hours following the gig in a Tokyo hotel.

James “King Tight” Blackston (23) and another 19-year-old man who cannot be named for legal reasons, have been charged with ‘quasi-forcible indecency' against Ms Furlong’s friend on the same night. The charge relates to allegations that the young woman was groped in a taxi.

Mr Blackston works as a dancer, appearing in music videos for the Black-Eyed Peas, Jennifer Lopez and Chris Brown. It is not clear how the two Americans – who had rooms at the hotel – came into contact with the Irish girls.

Police are detaining the men on a holding charge while Ms Furlong’s killing is under investigation. They are investigating if the students were drugged or plied with alcoholic drinks before the men took them to a plush hotel in Tokyo’s Shinjuku district.

It’s understood Ms Furlong was found by hotel staff, who were alerted by guests complaining of noise in the 19-year-old musician’s room.

The young woman, who had marks on her neck, was rushed to hospital, where she was later confirmed dead.

Arrangements have been made to bring home Nicola’s body. DCU is covering the costs of returning the student’s remains to her family in Wexford. Funeral arrangements are being made for the weekend.

Ms Furlong’s boyfriend – Wexford Youths centre-forward and team captain, Danny Furlong (22) – has pulled out of games due to be played this week. Last night Foreign Minister Eamon Gilmore offered his sympathies to the Furlong family and to the family of the dead woman's friend, also from Wexford.

“I want to offer my deepest condolences to the Furlong family who have lost Nicola in such awful circumstances,” he said.

Ms Furlong’s friend remains in Tokyo where her family has arrived to comfort her.

Today's news headlines, directly to your inbox every morning.

Editor's Choice

Also in Irish News