Just hours before she was murdered in a Tokyo hotel room, Wexford student, Nicola Furlong, had texted her mother, excited about her big night out at a Nicki Minaj concert and returning home to Ireland in “ten weeks”.
Furlong and her friend, another Irish student, Sarah Maher, were seen being pushed into a taxi outside the venue, Zepp Toyko. After complaints about noise at the high-end Keio Plaza hotel in Tokyo a staff member found Furlong unconscious on a hotel room floor. The Japanese police said her death was caused by strangulation.
Two Americans, a backing dancer, James Blackston (23) and a musician, Larry Perry (19) are in custody. They can be held for up to ten days under suspicion of sexual assault of the Irish students.
Although Maher was likely present for much of the attack, she remembers little of what happened that night, according to the Irish Independent. The Japanese police have allowed her to return to Ireland for her friend’s funeral but she may need to return to continue aiding the police with their investigation.
Early on in the investigation it was reported that the Japanese police were looking into the possibility that drugs were involved in the attack.
The Irish Independent reports that on Wednesday night the Japanese police were preparing to charge Perry with the sexual assault and killing of Furlong.
Furlong’s body arrived home to Ireland on Thursday. She will be buried in Curracloe, County Wexford, this weekend.
Her mother, Angela, is heartbroken. She told the Irish Mirror that her daughter texted her just before the concert.
She said, “She sent me a text message before the concert saying, ‘We put on our fake tan, all our shaving is done we are ready to go now mam, talk to you soon. Ten weeks and I’ll be back in Ireland.’”
She described how hard this tragic news has been to digest. She said, “The news that your daughter is dead is very, very hard to accept. But the hardest of all was on the Saturday morning to hear what had actually happened to my baby. That was worse than actually hearing that she was dead.
“When we received the news that was worse. That was really, really, really worse.
“I knew there had been an accident and I hoped it was a car crash that she had been killed instantly. She was so tiny and it had given her a heart attack. Nobody would hurt my baby.”
She added, “She was my baby, she will always be my baby. She was beautiful inside and out. She loved her two sisters, her mam and her dad.”
Furlong had also told her mother that she was going to get invited to the after party of Nicki Minaj’s show.
The hip hop star paid tribute to the Dublin University student on Twitter. She tweeted “Saddened to learn one of my precious fans; found tragically murdered in Japan. My love & prayers are with the family of Nicola Furlong.”
Minaj also tweeted a picture of Furlong.
Perez Hilton had said the two men being questioned by the police were among her backup dancers.
Minaj corrected Hilton quickly. She said “My dancers had nothing to do with this tragedy. No one in my entourage was questioned or arrested. They all flew home from Japan.”
Furlong’s body arrived at Dublin Airport on Thursday morning. Her body will be laid to rest on this weekend, according to TV3.