October 16, 2013

08/15/05: Andrew Lathrop, 20, Hokodate, Japan

Andrew Lathrop
Missing since 8/15/05
University of Wisconsin-Madison student Andrew Lathrop, 20, who went by "Andy," spoke fluent Japanese and chose to spend his sophomore year at college working as an intern with Labo International Exchange Foundation in Tokyo, Japan. After spending a year overseas, Andy decided to cap off his stay in Japan with a trip to the island of Hokkaido in August 2005. He traveled with friend and fellow intern Ariel Smoke on their last weekend in Japan.

The pair took a 20-hour train ride from Tokyo, where they were based, and ferried over to Hakodate, the northern Japan seaport of about 300,000 people. After taking a taxi to the Hakodate Kenkou Center, they grabbed a few hours sleep, then spent most of the day touring Hakodate.

The following day, Monday, Aug. 15, the friends decided to split up because Andy wanted to hike in a national park that was an hour away by train. They planned to meet later that afternoon to catch the Hakodate ferry to the mainland and then the train back to Tokyo.

The day started off as planned.

At about 7 a.m. Ariel spotted Andy going to the showers at the Hakodate Kenkou Center. She received a text message from him at 7:24 am that read, "I'm leaving."

At 9 a.m., Ariel got another text message: "Ferry at 5:30 p.m. from Hakodate to mainland." Ten minutes later, he wrote, "Let's meet at the station at 4:30 p.m." 

A little before 10 a.m., Lathrop texted: "I decided to stay in Hakodate. I walked to the swimming area and a ways and the sea is beautiful."

Ariel spent the rest of the day exploring more of Hakodate, then arrived at the ferry a little after 4 p.m. 

At 4:09 she sent Andy a text message: "I'm at the station."

Lathrop did not respond, nor did he appear at 4:30, the time he had suggested to meet.

Hours passed. Finally, at 10 p.m., Smoke phoned Shanti Laird, a coordinator with the Labo International Exchange Foundation in Tokyo, which had arranged Andy's teaching position in Japan. Laird said to call the police.

That same day--just five days before Andy was scheduled to return home to the United States--the Lathrops received a call telling them that their son was missing. 

Andrew Lathrop (cont).

The Search for Andy

Marie Schaefer, the American consul general in Sapporo, Japan, said police began searching for Andy on Wednesday, Aug. 17 after his phone stopped ringing. 

Searchers found some of Andy's clothes were found in a swim locker by the beach, but there was no sign of his iPod, camera, cell phone or credit card. The police told the family that, despite reports to the contrary, the area where Andy disappeared has e a low crime rate (Aug. 23, 2005, Burke).

Andy's return ticket on the ferry was never used.

The authorities located a family that Andy had spoken with on the beach the morning of his disappearance. 

"The family thought he was Japanese because he spoke the language fluently," reported Michael King of the Gannett Wisconsin newspapers. (Aug. 25, 2005). Andy told the family he was going to swim across a small channel about 20 feet wide to an island. 

Family members told King that Andy was a good swimmer and did not usually take risks.

On Friday, Aug. 19, 2005, Andrew's parents, Leslie and Steve Lathrop, and his siblings Scott and Jessica, traveled to Tokyo to help in the search.  They arrived Aug. 20.
"We have no idea what happened to him," she told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. "We're all concerned."

The next day, with the Labo staff, Andy's parents gave a press conference in Hakodate. Five newspapers and four TV stations covered the story. The publicity spurred some new leads.

One person remembered seeing Andy sitting near the water on a rocky shoreline not far from the ferry landing. It was a little before 10 a.m. and Andy had been eating some bread and text messaging. 

Another couple recalled Andy in the same general area, climbing out of the water after swimming. That was about 10:30.

Asked if they or police suspect foul play, Andy's uncle, Martin Eiden said, “I don’t know. Everything is still open."
Steven Lathrop, Andy's father, dismissed any suggestions his son may have run away, pointing out that his passport and other documents were still at his host family’s home. His bags had been packed and he had sent packages home.

By Aug. 25, the family had been involved in a "full-blown search," assisted by a helicopter, coast guard ship, scuba divers, volunteers, and a salvage operator. (Aug. 25, 2005, Associated Press). The search turned up nothing.
Later, they went out on their own, met by a fleet of seven boats, and covered an even larger area, reported Andy's uncle, Martin Elden. More than 1,100 missing person posters were also distributed.

“They are overwhelmed by the outpouring of sympathy and help that the local residents are giving them,” reported King. (Aug. 25, 2005).

About Andrew Lathrop
Andrew is originally from Menasha, Wisconsin. 

His colleague, Eduardo Sanchez, "recalls working alongside a polite and hardworking young man at the Fazoli’s Restaurant at 1550 Appleton Road for two years. When Andy Lathrop quit to go to college, he remembered thinking how it would be tough to replace such “a great worker, excellent person and a great team player.” Fazoli's helped raise money for the Lathrop family's search.

After finishing his freshman year at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in August 2004, he postponed his sophomore year to teach in Japan. He planned to come back someday for graduate school and had made inquiries. He loves the Japanese language and at the time of his disappearance was anticipating a career in international business or perhaps architecture; he revered Frank Lloyd Wright.

Case Details
Name/age: Andrew "Andy" Lathrop, 20
Case Type: Missing
Last seen:  Aug. 15, 2005
Missing from: Hakodate, Japan
Hometown: Menasha, Wisconsin
Residence: Toyko, Japan
Height: 6'0" (183 cm)
Weight: 150 lbs (68 kg)
Hair Color: Blonde
Eye Color: Blue
Case Number: NCMA1029040 


Moe, Doug. (2005, Oct. 18). Missing UW student still a mystery. Gannett Wisconsin Newspapers. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t6502.htm

Portratz, John. (2005, September 1). UW student still missing in Japan. The Badger Herald. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from http://badgerherald.com/news/2005/09/01/uw-student-still-mis/

King, Michael. (2005, August 25). Search for missing Menasha man comes up empty. Gannet Wisconsin Newspapers. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t6502.htm.

King, Michael. (2005, August 23). Funds bolster search for man. Post-Crescent. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t6502.htm.

Burke, Jerry. (2005, August 23). Family Searches for Man Missing in Japan. Retrieved October 16, 2013 from 

Staff writer. (2005, August 20). Wisconsin family arrives in Japan to look for missing son. Associated Press. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t6502.htm.

Staff writer. (2005, August 18.) Menasha family plans to go to Japan to look for missing son. Associated Press. Retrieved October 16, 2013 from http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t6502.htm.

Staff writer. (2005, August 18). Menasha family plans to go to Japan to look for missing son. Associated Press. Retrieved October 16, 2013 from http://z10.invisionfree.com/usedtobedoe/ar/t6502.htm.

Staff writer. 
(2005, August 15). UW-Madison Student Missing in Japan. NBC 15. Retrieved October 11, 2013 from http://www.nbc15.com/news/headlines/1693351.htm.


Skunky said...

How strange that a young man from Wisconsin (the hotbed of missing, college-aged men) goes missing in Japan. Very creepy & sinister. Could it be international???

Skunky said...

Derrick Shao (20)
City College of San Francisco
Body found 11/15/2013 in San Leandro Marina.
Missing for 2 weeks, Last seen 11/7.

Bryce Laspisa (19)
Orange County College Student
Vehicle overturned @ Castaic Lake

Missing since 8/30/2013

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