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The Spokesman-Review Newspaper
Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Man who let wife, daughter die sentenced

Associated Press The Spokesman-Review

REXBURG, Idaho – A Rexburg man who lived with the partially mummified bodies of his wife and daughter for months has been sentenced to four years in prison.

Kenichi David Kaneko, 68, entered a modified guilty plea in June to two counts of involuntary manslaughter under a plea agreement with Madison County prosecutors. He could have been sentenced to as much as 10 years in prison for each count, but 7th District Judge Richard St. Clair handed down a four-year sentence Monday. He said Kaneko could be released much earlier.

Kaneko will serve six months at a Department of Correction mental health facility in Boise, St. Clair said. Depending on his evaluations there, he could be released on probation after that period, the Post Register reported.

Authorities conducting a welfare check on June 19, 2004, found the decomposed bodies of Laura Kaneko, 33, and Lorraine Kiyoe Kaneko, 58, side by side on a bed surrounded by hundreds of air fresheners and fans in Kaneko’s mobile home.

Investigators determined that Laura Kaneko died in May or June 2001, and that Lorraine Kaneko died Feb. 9, 2003. Kaneko was charged for not seeking help for the women, who had isolated themselves from family and friends for years before they died and are believed to have been mentally ill.

According to court records, the women died after following a plan they believed was a divine revelation requiring a restricted diet and complete isolation. Journals found at the home show that as early as 1990, Laura Kaneko made entries that she had received a revelation from God that she was supposed to marry a young man who was then away on a mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, according to records.

The women died from a combination of starvation and sickness, according to autopsy reports. Authorities found trash – including spoiled food, used toilet paper and bags of candy labeled with the day it was eaten – piled everywhere in the small home.

At a hearing in January, a mental health expert testified the women suffered from a chronic mental illness that made it difficult for them to judge reality and take care of themselves.

On Monday, Kaneko said that at the time his mental condition had deteriorated to the point that he didn’t realize anything was wrong. He’s since received psychological help and feels “great remorse,” he said.

“I miss my family. I miss my wife and daughter,” Kaneko said. “I’m sorry for what happened and the tragic ending it had.”