A Spanaway man charged with killing his ex-wife was found dead Monday.
Investigators believe Scott Kagawa, 49, committed suicide. Landscapers discovered his body while dumping grass outside an apartment complex in north Kirkland near his mother-in-law’s house.
After being interviewed by Pierce County sheriff’s detectives about the death of his ex-wife, 53-year-old Rita Kagawa, Scott Kagawa disappeared. His car was found July 2 in Kirkland with a six-page, handwritten suicide note and personal items such as his debit card and work cellphone inside.
The department had planned to search the area later this week with cadaver dogs.
“His death pretty much closes the case,” sheriff’s spokesman Ed Troyer said. “He was our only suspect, and we put a case together. We believe he was responsible for her death.”
Rita Kagawa disappeared from her apartment May 18. A hiker found her body June 26 on a path off state Route 510 near Yelm on Joint Base Lewis-McChord property.
The Thurston County Coroner’s Office has not yet determined how she died.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Scott Kagawa with first-degree murder Thursday. In charging papers, they alleged he killed his ex-wife because he owed her a $67,000 settlement in military retirement benefits.
The couple divorced in 1997, and Rita Kagawa sued him for benefits. She disappeared five days before a judge ordered Scott Kagawa to pay her.
After her disappearance, Rita Kagawa’s attorney received an email, purportedly from her, asking him to stop work on the case and saying she wanted to reconcile with her ex-husband.
The couple’s 12-year-old daughter also received text messages, again purportedly from Rita Kagawa, the night she went missing, which was unusual.
Scott Kagawa told detectives he visited his ex-wife unannounced May 18 and stayed a brief time to talk about the upcoming court hearing. He did not deny killing her.
Surveillance footage from Rita Kagawa’s apartment complex shows her ex-husband’s vehicle arrive at 7 p.m. on May 18 and stay for nearly two hours. He then left and returned more than an hour later.
The next day, surveillance cameras captured the SUV of Scott Kagawa’s current wife coming and going. He told his wife he needed to borrow her vehicle to move something.