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Coroner unable to find cause of death of Japanese women
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Coroner unable to find cause of death of Japanese women

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A Minnesota police chief says the Japanese woman who was apparently searching for the hidden money featured in the movie "Fargo" wanted to commit suicide, although a coroner was unable to determine the exact cause of her death.

Takako Konishi, 28, was found dead near Detroit Lakes, Minn., on Nov. 15. Her body was sent to the Ramsey County Medical Examiner's Office in St. Paul, where the final autopsy could not pinpoint a cause of death, but did find a number of drugs in her system.

A bow hunter found Konishi's body in a wooded area on the southern edge of Detroit Lakes, Minn., which is about 60 miles east of Fargo. Six days prior, the Tokyo woman had been in Bismarck, where police said she spent a night in a hotel and then went looking for money that had been hidden by a character in the movie. She was found wandering around near a landfill with a crude map of a tree next to a highway.

Eventually, she ended up at the Bismarck police station, where an officer spent hours talking to her. She showed the officer her map and referred to the movie and being in the U.S. to find the money. The officer tried to explain to her that "Fargo" was just a movie, but they had trouble overcoming the language barrier.

Since Konishi had money and her papers were in order, police dropped her off at a bus station. She took a bus to Fargo, then took a taxi to Detroit Lakes, where she apparently hitchhiked a ride out of town.

Detroit Lakes Police Chief Kelvin Keena said the autopsy found no sign of sexual assault, trauma or an "overriding medical condition" that could have caused Konishi's death. But he learned that the woman had sent a letter to her family expressing a desire to commit suicide.

"Our working theory is that she was intending to commit suicide and, although perhaps not directly successful, she was ultimately successful," Keena said Monday.

He said she tested positive for at least six different drugs in her system, including sedatives, anti-convulsant drugs, tranquilizers and antipsychotics - but they weren't concentrated enough to directly cause her death. He said the drugs were probably a contributing factor - "that, and the exposure to the cold." Authorities are still performing lab work on additional substances that were found in her possession, Keena said.

She is believed to have arrived in Detroit Lakes on Nov. 12, and the temperature dipped to 26 degrees that night. Keena said she was seen hitchhiking and standing beside a road.

"She was given a ride by two people and they were under the impression that she was in a hurry to go someplace and that she was late for work," he said. "I just know that they had a real hard time understanding her."

(Reach Deena Winter at 250-8251 or deena.winter@bismarcktribune.com.)

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