WWII-vintage samurai turned over to GPD for analysis

Dr. Dennis Borja illustrates to media and police how the Japanese war relic sword is used prior to turning it over to the Police Crime Lab for an analysis. Photo by Paul Bla

Amateur historian says sword may have been used to kill Fr. Duenas

THE Guam Police Department has been tasked with analyzing a World War II Japanese sword recently acquired by former senatorial candidate Dr. Dennis Borja.

An amateur historian, Borja said he learned of the sword recently through Howard Hemsing, a Taotaomona Rights Group member, who has owned the weapon for several years.

"Howard Hemsing acquired it from a lady who as he told me found it in the jungles of Yigo when she was younger," Borja said.

The Variety spoke to Hemsing about the sword and was told that he gave the relic to Borja to do research on.

Hemsing, who collects artifacts, confirms that an old lady came to his display booth at the flea market in Dededo and gave him the sword about four to five years ago  

"She said that the sword has been in her house for a long time but she didn't want to keep it anymore because the kids are playing with it. The old lady knows that I collect artifacts so she gave it to me," Hemsing said. "We don't know if that was the sword that was used for Father Duenas but I have an intuition."


During a news conference, Borja said the sword had the chrysanthemum flower, which is the symbol of Japan's emperor as well as other serial numbers that indicate it may have belonged to a Japanese military police officer.

Because of certain markings in the sword, it appears to have hit some sort of hard object. Borja is hoping that GPD can conduct tests to determine what the sword was used for.

"What we're hoping to find out by utilizing with the CSI first off is if there's human blood on here, if there's DNA. Granted if there is, it's probably over 60 to 70 years old. If it is, whether it usable or not, we don't know. But if it is, then you can do what's called a power mace chain reaction to develop the DNA and take that DNA and do a DNA matching. Then there is a chance that it might have been used during the execution of Pale Duenas or his nephew in Tai, Chalan Pago. That's what we're trying to determine," Borja said.

It should be noted that GPD's crime lab doesn't conduct DNA testing and that samples are usually sent off-island to the FBI in Quantico, Virginia or a private laboratory that is contracted by GPD.  The lab can only do blood typing to determine if blood found is either animal or human.


As an officer from the forensics lab took down Borja's statements, GPD Chief Paul Suba said even though the sword was turned over to GPD, that doesn't mean they're going to be confiscating every sword that's found throughout the island.

"But with the information that he provided, there is relevancy or validity to what he's stated as far as it's authenticity. But again we don't want to take it for granted, especially after he provided the information," Suba said.

With this in mind, the chief invited not only Monsignor James Benavente, but also invited a representative from the Japan Council as well as the Guam Historical Preservation Office and the Guam Museum to take a look at the relic.

"They're all aware of what's transpiring here and there's no guarantee that GPD can do anything other than one – preserve it and protect it so it's not lost or stolen and two – work with Dr. Borja and whoever owns the sword to determine if we have the capability of processing the sword here on Guam. That's where we're at. It's just out of respect and not taking it for granted," Suba said.

Meanwhile, Benavente thanked GPD Chief Paul Suba for inviting the archdiocese.

"We're just going to remain as observers and see what the GPD CSI has to say and from there we will proceed with what the recommendation might be ... if we need to do further tests or further studies," Benavente said, adding that if it needs to go further, they have other resources they can rely on.


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