PHOENIX - Randy Redtail Wescogame, 19, of the Havasupai Indian Tribe, pleaded guilty last week to second degree murder for the slaying of Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese tourist who was killed on her 34th birthday after going for a hike to the Havasupai Falls.
In pleading guilty in front of U.S. Magistrate Judge Edward C. Voss, Wescogame has agreed to a sentence of life in prison without the possibility of release.
"Today's result shows the continued commitment by the Coconino County Sheriff's Office, the FBI, the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Havasupai Community and the U.S. Attorney's Office to bring forth justice in this case," said Daniel G. Knauss, U.S. Attorney for the District of Arizona. "Our hope is that this guilty plea will allow Ms. Hanamure's family to continue the healing process for their loss."
Hanamure was reported missing on May 9, 2006, a day after she checked into a lodge on the Havasupai Indian Reservation and left for a hike to the Havasupai Falls. The Bureau of Indian Affairs and the Coconino County Sheriff's Office initiated a search and rescue operation. Her body was located on May 13 in a secluded section of the river, 10 miles from the nearest road. An autopsy revealed that Hanamure died as a result of approximately 30 stab wounds.
Wescogame has been in federal custody since December. The five-count indictment by a federal grand jury alleged that Wescogame willfully murdered Hanamure in the course of kidnapping and robbing her on May 8, 2006. The charges in the indictment were premeditated first degree murder, first degree felony murder-robbery, robbery, first degree felony murder-kidnapping, and kidnapping.