Woman who fled to Japan after Seattle killing pleads not guilty to murder, forgery charges

SEATTLE -- A woman charged with murder in Washington state who fled to Japan seven years ago is now in custody back in Seattle.

Kyung Hee Dowdle, 48, has been held in King County Jail since last week on a $5 million bond. She appeared in court Monday morning and pleaded not guilty to charges of murder in the first degree and four counts of forgery.

Authorities believe 75-year-old Toshio Ota died of blunt force trauma in March 2011, around the same time the retired Seattle businessman was reported missing and a month before Dowdle left for Japan.

His body was found in the Columbia River in 2012.

Authorities say Dowdle owned a restaurant frequented by Ota, and that he was a father-figure to her but she was upset when he removed her from his will.

Seattle detectives worked with the Japanese National Police and the U.S. Marshals Service to find Dowdle.