Americans Arrested in Tokyo Death Investigation

Nicola Furlong, an Irish exchange student, was found dead in a Tokyo hotel room.

May 28, 2012, 11:16 AM

May 28, 2012— -- Tokyo police investigating the death of an Irish exchange student have arrested two American men, the Japan Times reported.

Nicola Furlong, 21, was found unconscious in an upscale Tokyo hotel room early Thursday morning after attending a Nicki Minaj concert with a 21-year-old female friend. Furlong was later pronounced dead, and an autopsy indicated she may have been strangled, according to the Japan Times.

Police said the women were invited out for drinks and then back to the Keio Plaza Hotel by two American men, a 23-year-old dancer and a 19-year-old musician. The 19-year-old man, whose name has not been released, was in the room when hotel staff found Furlong unconscious on the floor beside the bed after responding to noise complaints around 3:20 a.m., Japan's Mainichi reported.

Neither man has been charged in Furlong's death. Rather, both were charged with indecent assault on Furlong's friend, whose name has not been released, during the taxi ride to the hotel. Police said the friend, also an Irish exchange student, was unable to resist their advances because "she was in a comatose state from a highly alcoholic beverage," the Irish Independent reported.

Furlong's friend was in a separate room with the 23-year-old man, identified by the Associated Press as James Jamari Blackston, when Furlong was found unconscious. Blackston, a dancer, has reportedly performed with several high-profile acts, including the Black Eyed Peas and Jennifer Lopez, according to newspaper accounts.

A spokeswoman for the U.S. Department of State confirmed the arrests but said she could not provide further details, including the men's names, because of privacy considerations.

Furlong was studying at the Takasaki City University of Economics, about 60 miles northwest of Tokyo, as part of a one-year exchange program through Dublin City University. She had intended to return home this summer, the Independent reported.

Furlong's family described her as a "warm, generous, stunning person who always had time for her family and other people."

"We are devastated by the loss of our beautiful daughter [and] sister Nicola in such tragic circumstances," they said in a statement obtained by the Independent. "Nicola will always be at the center of our lives. She stood for everything that is good in life."

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