MEMPHIS, TN (abc24.com) - The trip of a lifetime for a Memphis teenager has turned into a murder mystery in Japan. 19-year-old Richard Hinds is locked up in Tokyo, a suspect in the murder of an Irish Exchange student. Hinds is also a well known Christian Musician in the Mid-South.
For Hinds, it was the opportunity of a lifetime to perform in arenas across Japan with a company of talented musicians. He was scheduled to come home June 20, now no one's sure when they'll see him again.
Friends say Hinds' talent as a keyboardist was a gift from God. His music was used to worship in churches across the Mid-South. In March, he left the Bluff City for Tokyo and the opportunity for thousands of people to hear his music every night. His friend, who didn't want to be identified, says, "Even with him going overseas he was prayerful about it, it wasn't just a 'I got a good gig.' He's not the gigging type, he just gives his gift back, gives his talent back."
The friend says Hinds was like a brother to him. He never imagined the prayerful decision would land his best friend behind bars in Japan. "When I read the story I started putting things together, I said surely not. Surely this isn't happening, a piece of my heart broke, because I don't know that person that the media is trying to portray. I don't know that person."
Tokyo Police are also trying to figure out who Hinds is and if he had a role in the murder of Irish exchange student, 21-year-old Nicola Furlong. Furlong and another Irish friend went to a Nicki Minaj concert when they were approached by two American men. Police say the four arrived at the Keio Plaza Hotel together. Around 3:00 a.m. a hotel guest complained about a loud noise coming from the room, and hotel workers told police they heard someone inside the room say, "she's not breathing." Police say Hinds was in the room with Furlong's strangled body when they arrived.
Back in the Mid-South, Hinds' parents weren't home when abc24.com tried to contact them, but his neighbors, like his friends, can't believe the allegations. Katie White says, "That's really astounding because really, I would really have to see that, I just can't believe that, I really can't. I really can't."
Hinds and the 23-year-old are being held on suspicion of molesting the victim's friend; no murder charges have been filed at this point. In Japan suspects can be held for a considerable period of time as investigators build a case.
A representative in Congressman Steve Cohen's office says if they are contacted by the family they will act as a liaison between them and the State Department.