Japanese Student Disappearance
January 28, 2006 – Madison, WI
A Japanese student disappeared. He was found drowned in Lake Mendota. Kenji Ohmi came to Madison to study English. Ohmi's body was spotted by a windsurfer at about 1:45 p.m. June 19, 2006, about 200 feet off the shore at Tenney Park. Findings from an autopsy indicate that Ohmi drowned.

Was Ohmni a victim of serial murders working the Midwest?

Ohmi was last seen on a surveillance camera leaving his home at 202 N. Hamilton St. at about 6:30 a.m. Leaving in a cold rain, he was wearing a coat but he left behind his umbrella and his wallet.

Dozens of students and others in the area spent days handing out fliers with his picture and trying to retrace his steps, seeking clues from those who might have seen him. Posters asking for tips were posted in area coffee shops, stores and community centers.

After he vanished, his parents traveled to Madison and helped in the search. His father soon afterward went back to Japan, where two other children were living at home. His mother, Hiromi Ohmi, remained in Madison for a time to continue taking part in the search before returning home.

Ohmi disappeared two years after the Audrey Seiler fake abduction and drew much criticism because it seemed the media, and even the police, didn’t seem to car as much about a missing foreign male as it did about a white female. However investigators had reason to believe foul play was involved in Seiler's case while they had no reason to think so in this case.

“Drowned Student's Parents Thank Madison Residents For Their Kindness”

To the people of Madison: We would like to express our sincere gratitude for your assistance and cooperation in the search for our son, Kenji.

It is very disappointing that our son could never come back in good health, but through this incident we have been deeply impressed by the warmth and consideration of the people of Madison.

We are very grateful that because of all your efforts, Kenji was returned to us.

We believe that Kenji finished his life happily, with the concern and support of so many people.

All of our family, who are left behind, will live for Kenji's life, drawing strength from each other.

Again we express our true appreciation to the people of Madison.


An odd side note to this was that Ohmi’s mother was contacted by a Menasha, WI woman who was living an eerily parallel life. Lesley Lathrop’s son, Andrew, a UW-Madison student, was missing in Japan at the same time. Both were 20. After a yearlong internship teaching English, Andrew was last seen on a rocky beach area in the northern seaport city of Hakodate. Searchers, including divers, have come up empty-handed. But after befriending her Japanese counterpart she said she was able to confront facts.

"I had to realize that Andy didn't forget to come home. That he didn't come home, and that he really was missing."

Kenji Ohmi (20)