Weeks before being charged with the murder of a Japanese student he was dating, William Schneider was “sad” and “upset” over the inability to have a relationship with his teenage son in Japan, his murder trial heard Thursday.
The revelations were part of the testimony from his older brother, Warren Schneider of Kelowna, the Crown’s main witness in the second-degree murder trial.
William Schneider also faces a charge of committing an indignity against a human body. He has pleaded not guilty in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver. Thursday was the fourth day of the trial before judge and jury.
Warren told court that William had travelled to Japan in June and July of 2016 to visit his teenage son, Ricky, and was upset that his estranged wife wouldn’t return to Canada with their son or let the boy take his surname.
“The vacation didn’t go the way (William) wanted,” said Warren. “He was sad and lost and didn’t succeed in keeping a steady relationship with his son.”
A week after returning from Japan, William moved in to a men’s hostel, where he lived for the next six weeks, during which time he met Natsumi Kogawa.
Her body was found in a suitcase in Vancouver’s West End on Sept. 28, 2016, about two weeks after friends reported her missing.
Warren Schneider, according to prosecutor Geordie Proulx’s opening statement on the first day of the trial, overheard his younger brother telling his estranged wife in Japan on the phone that “I did it” or “I killed her.”
But the eight-woman, four-man jury on Thursday didn’t hear Warren testify about that phone call.
He did testify how he learned William was being sought as a suspect in the case of a missing Japanese student in Vancouver.
After police posted a photo from CCTV footage showing Kogawa and William walking together, Warren’s daughter in Kelowna contacted Warren to ask if it was Willie, as he is called, in the photo.
It was a week after William had shown up in Kelowna, telling Warren and their half-brother Kevin that “he had done something bad” before leaving them shortly after arriving.
“What did you conclude?” Proulx asked Warren after he saw the photo.
“The worst,” replied Warren.
He called William in Vernon, at their father’s home, and told him about the photo, and William hung up without a word, he testified.
He drove to Vernon that night and then walked with William to buy beer.
During the walk, William said “that it’s true,” said Warren, adding he was “referring to (an) article on the Internet (about) the missing Japanese student. He brought it up. I didn’t pry.”
The brothers that evening drank together in the park and agreed to talk more the next day, Warren said.
The next morning, William bought some heroin with the intention of committing suicide by overdosing, Warren testified. He said William told him where to find Kogawa’s body in Vancouver so Warren could tell police after he was dead.
Warren said he took several photos of them and then called 911 to report a heroin overdose at the park.
But William didn’t overdose. “(William) realized he got ripped off. (The heroin) wasn’t strong enough and he didn’t die,” Warren said.
Later, the men’s half-sister called Warren, who told her that he was with Willie “and we were hugging goodbye because (William) had planned on getting some more heroin” to commit suicide.
The sister picked up Warren and drove him to the police station.