Scott Kagawa, 49, has not been seen or heard from for days. The warrant for first-degree murder was issued today.
Pierce County sheriff’s investigators say he killed his ex-wife, 53-year-old Rita Kagawa. She was reported missing May 20 after not showing up to her stocking job at Walmart for three days.
Rita Kagawa’s body was found June 26 off state Route 510. A hiker who had walked down a path discovered her body on Joint Base Lewis-McChord land in Thurston County.
Scott Kagawa “hasn’t been cooperative. He’s lied to us multiple times. He’s made some threats of suicide,” said sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer. “He’s lied to us all the way through so we’re not taking his word when he says he’s going to go commit suicide.”
Scott Kagawa told his ex-wife’s family that he last spoke to her May 18 about an upcoming court hearing.
At a May 23 court hearing, he was ordered to pay Rita Kagawa a $67,000 settlement for military retirement benefits, according to records.
According to charging papers:
The Kagawa’s 12-year-old daughter told investigators that she received several text messages from her mother May 18, even though Rita Kagawa had never text messaged her before. She also recalled her father coming home late and not answering his telephone when she and her stepmother tried to reach him.
On May 19, Rita Kagawa’s attorney received an email purportedly from her saying she no longer wanted to pursue the settlement and that she wanted to reconcile with her ex-husband.
The attorney said it was odd because she had never emailed his office before and the email was sent through his firm’s Website. When he tried to reply to the email, it was returned as non-deliverable.
When detectives interviewed Scott Kagawa in early June, he told them he stopped by his ex-wife’s apartment unannounced May 18 to discuss the settlement. He said he stayed about 20 minutes and then left to buy a shirt, driving to several stores between Tacoma and Tukwila.
When detectives told him they believed he had killed Rita Kagawa, he responded, “’We had a conversation and I left,’” but he did not deny that he killed her.”
Scott Kagawa’s current wife told investigators her husband claimed to be stressed and wanted to get away May 19. He took her SUV “because he had to move something” but said it was not uncommon for him to help friends move things.
Surveillance footage from Rita Kagawa’s apartment complex shows her ex-husband’s vehicle arriving at 7 p.m. on May 18 and then leaving about 8:30 p.m. It returns more than an hour later.
The next day, the current wife’s SUV can be seen entering the apartment complex just after 8 a.m. and then leaving 40 minutes later. Scott Kagawa’s cell phone records show he took and made two different calls in the vicinity of his ex-wife’s apartment at that time.
Scott Kagawa’s employer called detectives Monday and said he left his car, a six-page handwritten suicide note, his debit card, work phone and other items at his mother-in-law’s house in Kirkland.
Bloodhounds searched a wooded area near the home but were unable to find a trace of Scott Kagawa.
Scott Kagawa is 5 feet 7 and 175 pounds, with brown eyes and black hair.
Tacoma-Pierce County Crime Stoppers is offering up to a $1,000 reward for information leading to his arrest.
In the weeks following Rita Kagawa’s disappearance, her family organized multiple searches and papered neighborhoods with fliers asking for information.
When her body was found, her family issued a statement thanking detectives and the community for their help.
“Her kind and loving spirit lives on in her beautiful children and the many lives she touched. The pain of her absence is felt and she will be sorely missed every day,” her niece, Cynthia Terronez, wrote. “While we are filled with tremendous sorrow and grief, we take comfort that she has been brought home to us and can now rest in peace.”