Osaka prefectural police investigating the murder of a 13-year-old girl and the disappearance of a 12-year-old boy with whom she was last seen on Aug 13, said Thursday they believe the two were met or approached by someone near Keihan Neyagawashi Station and taken away in a car.
The focus of the investigation has shifted to a mysterious car that came into the parking lot of a distribution center in Takatsuki on the night of Aug 13, where the mutilated body of Natsumi Hirata was found, Fuji TV reported.
At first, police believed two cars had come into the parking lot, but a closer examination of surveillance camera footage now shows only one car. Police said a car with its lights on entered the parking lot at around 10:35 p.m. The lights then went off and the car left. Five minutes later, the same vehicle, with its lights on again, came back into the lot and parked in the same spot as before with its lights off. The car then left at 11:10 p.m. with its lights on.
Hirata’s body was found behind a truck at around 11:35 p.m. Her hands were tied with duct tape, which was also wrapped around her head. She was wearing a white shirt, black tank top, denim shorts and navy knee-high socks, but she was not wearing any shoes. There were at least 30 cuts on her body, some as deep as to the bone.
An autopsy revealed that the girl had been suffocated, probably about four or five hours before her body was found, Fuji TV reported.
Hirata’s classmate, Ryoto Hoshino, who was with her on the night of Aug 12 and early Aug 13, remains missing.
Police have been trying to piece together the movements of the two children after they left their homes on Aug 12.
Here is what is known so far.
On Aug 12 at about 6 p.m., Hirata told her mother she was going out to play with Hoshino. She took her bicycle and a small tent. Meanwhile, Hoshino told his mother at 9 p.m. that he was going to hang out with Hirata.
The two were seen outside a convenience store at 10:30 p.m., eating ramen. A passerby asked Hirata where her parents were and she just laughed.
After that, the children apparently started texting friends on the messaging app Line. Around midnight, Hoshino asked a 12-year-old girl if he could spend the night at her house but she said no. Hirata texted a friend and asked if she could come over but the friend said Hirata should go home or her mother would get angry.
At 1:09 a.m. on Aug 13, security camera footage at a shopping arcade showed Hirata riding her bicycle. Then at 5:09 a.m., she and Hoshino are seen walking back and forth in the arcade where they most likely remained until dawn to get out of the rain.
At 6:35 a.m., Hirata texted a friend and said she and Hoshino were going to Kyoto and that she probably wouldn’t be returning to Neyagawa. That was the last time anyone heard from her or Hoshino. When friends attempted to call them on their cell phones during the day, they got no signal.
The arcade is a short walk from the train station. Hoshino was seen once more, placing his bicycle in a paid parking spot outside the station at around 3 p.m. on the afternoon of Aug 13, and that is the last time he was seen. Hirata’s bike was found nearby.
Police said there is no evidence that the children got on a train for Kyoto. Security camera footage shows no one resembling the children at the train station or the bus stop, and no witnesses have been found, who saw them at the station that day.
Police are trying to find out what happened between 3 p.m. and 7 p.m., which is when Hirata died, according to the autopsy.
Police are asking anyone with any information about the two children or the mysterious car to come forward or call 090-7885-7034.© Japan Today