It was Natsumi Kogawa’s dream to come to Canada and study.
The 30-year-old Japanese student had been studying English in Vancouver when she disappeared on Sept. 7. Kogawa’s body was later found at a historic mansion in Vancouver on Sept. 28 and 48-year-old William Victor Schneider man was arrested in connection with the homicide.
In an exclusive interview with Global News, Kogawa’s close friend Jay Vergara shared how amazing his friend was and how hard she worked to come to Canada.
“Her dream was to come to Canada,” Vergara said.
“She took her time to save a lot of money to come to Canada and she always wanted to study abroad. This was the culmination of her biggest goal to come here to study.”
Vergara, who met Kogawa in May, was the person who reported her missing and organized search parties. Although their time together was short, the pair saw one another several times a week and there are a lot of things he’ll miss about his friend.
“Her determination, how bright she was, how positive she was,” an emotional Vergara said. “I miss how every time she would come into a room everyone would brighten it up. She’s like the center of the room. I miss her a lot.”
The suspect, Schneider, has been charged with indignity to a human body and appeared briefly in court in October. He is currently still in custody.
When news of Kogawa’s death reached her friends and family, Vergara says he couldn’t believe it. He had always held out hope she would be found alive.
“It doesn’t feel real, it doesn’t feel real right now… I fantasize about going back in time and seeing if there was anything I could do differently,” he said.
“I was thinking about how I could have taken a day off that day and we could have just hung out for a bit. I don’t know how to process it.”
WATCH: VPD announce the body found at Gabriola Mansion on Davie Street Wednesday is that of missing Japanese student Natsumi Kagawa. As Grace Ke reports, an arrest has been made in the Okanagan.
Vergara has been working with Kogawa’s mother, Emiko, on a statement the family is releasing on their Facebook page thanking everyone who helped support the family.
Part of their statement said:
Countless people helped search for her, shared information on Facebook, sent us warm messages, prayed for Natsumi every day, and even until today help support us. Your support and your feelings has helped our family in such a difficult time. We regret that we were not able to tell everyone individually how much we appreciate your feelings and support.
Along with describing what the family went through, Emiko asks for help in gathering their most important treasures — memories of their daughter.
“Any happy memories whether it be stories, photos, or videos of Natsumi either in Japan or in Canada are considered treasures to the family and they are asking that we collect it for them,” Vergara said.
“If you have any of these we ask that you please send them as a message directly to this Facebook page.”
WATCH: VPD talk about the arrest of a 48-year-old man in connection with the death of Natsumi Kogawa