Texas Lutheran student strangled before found in burned apartment

In 2002, Mikiko Kasahara, 21,  was a foreign exchange student from Japan attending Texas Lutheran University. Mikiko had just finished final exams for the fall 2002 semester and held a party at her apartment on a Friday night for some of her close friends.

The following morning on Saturday, Dec. 14, 2002, a fire was reported in Mikiko’s apartment. When emergency responders arrived, they found Mikiko’s severely burned body in the bedroom of her burned apartment. She had been strangled and was dead before the blaze, an autopsy showed.

Travis County (Texas) Deputy Medical Examiner Elizabeth Peacock ruled that Kasahara “died as a result of homicidal violence including, but not limited to strangulation.” 

Along with a broken bone in her larynx, Mikiko also suffered a pelvis injury accompanied by significant hemorrhaging. Forensics specialists couldn’t determine the source of the injury because Kasahara’s body was so badly burned, according to the report. Even though Mikiko had hosted a party at her apartment the night before, the autopsy found no drugs or alcohol in her system.

Police investigators said fellow students were unable to provide much assistance in the investigation. One of her instructors at the university said that Mikiko was “well-liked, a nice person, and she was always surrounded by friends.”

Sequin Police officials described Mikiko as “one of those quiet persons that didn’t really associate with people outside of the school. She trusted a lot of people. She was a student, minding her own business, living in the security of her home and someone violated that by going in inside and killing her.”

Seguin is home to Texas Lutheran University, and is located around 45 minutes from San Antonio or Austin. Texas Lutheran University is a small school with around 1,300 undergraduate students.

Mikiko enrolled at Texas Lutheran University in the summer of 2000 as a student in the university’s English as a Second Language program. She began taking classes as a full-time student in January 2002. She was named to the Provost’s List for academic excellence last spring.

Several years ago, police officials said they had a person on interest. This person was interviewed several times. It is unclear if this person is still a suspect.

Earlier this year, the Texas Rangers re-publicized Mikiko’s case in hopes of generating leads. Since the murder was committed 15 years ago, no arrests have been made.

Recent Houston Chronicle article 

Texas Rangers cold case details