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Police: 2 Americans arrested after death of Irish woman in Tokyo hotel room

Posted at 12:54 PM, May 27, 2012
and last updated 2012-05-27 10:07:39-04

From Junko Ogura, CNN

TOKYO (CNN) – Police have detained two American men as part of an investigation into the strangling death of an Irish exchange student in Tokyo, Japanese authorities said Sunday.

Nicola Furlong, 21, was found dead in a hotel room with one of the men, according to Tokyo police.

The men were not charged in Furlong’s death. Rather, police arrested the men on suspicion of improperly touching Furlong’s friend in a taxi early Thursday, as the four headed back to the hotel, authorities said.

Authorities would not say how the four ended up together, but Japanese media reported that the women were attending a Nicki Minaj concert in Tokyo when they met the men and decided to accompany them to their hotel rooms.

Police said both men in custody were entertainers — a 19-year-old musician and a 23-year-old dancer — but did not say if they were part of Minaj’s entourage.

The hotel staff found Furlong unconscious after customers complained of loud noises coming from the room, police said.

When the staff got to the room, they found her in the room with the 19-year-old and called the fire department, Tokyo authorities said.

The death is believed to be as a result of suffocation by cervical compression, police said.

Furlong’s parish priest, the Rev. Jim Fitzpatrick, described her as an “outgoing, bubbly sort of girl and very well liked,” and said she was looking forward to coming home after having been in Japan since October.

“Everyone’s a little devastated,” in her close-knit rural community, which has only 300 or 400 families, he said.

“When the death of a young person happens, everybody knows and is in some way involved or concerned,” he said. “When it happens in tragic circumstances and so far away from home, it has a double impact on people.”

Her parents last spoke to her the day she died, he said.

She was “very close” to her siblings, particularly her sister Andrea, Fitzpatrick said.

The U.S. State Department confirmed the arrests, but could not provide additional details, citing privacy concerns.

CNN’s Jamie Crawford, Randi Kaye and Bharati Naik contributed to the report.