Japan Today

Stalker jailed for 22 years for killing ex-girlfriend


A man who murdered his former girlfriend after stalking her in Tokyo's Mitaka area last October was sentenced to 22 years in prison by the Tokyo District Court on Friday.

Charles Thomas Ikenaga, 22, who is from Kyoto, had pleaded guilty to the murder of Saaya Suzuki, 18, whom he met on Facebook in July 2011. About five months later, Suzuki indicated she wanted to end their relationship.

In handing down the ruling, the presiding judge of the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court said that the murder had been premeditated and that Ikenaga had sent death threats to Suzuki, NTV reported.

The court heard that a search of Ikenaga's home later revealed a computer file in which he had written a checklist and travel budget for the murder. The file listed items such as "knife", "gloves", "rope" and "bag." Prosecutors said the file also included a series of calculations thought to represent an itemised budget for the murder, including travel costs from Ikenaga's hometown of Kyoto to Tokyo, where the murder took place. The file was created on Sept 20 and last updated on Sept 27.

The court heard that Suzuki first asked her school principal for advice on Oct 4 after she received email death threats from Ikenaga. The principal advised her to contact the police. Suzuki and her parents visited police at around 9 a.m. on Tuesday Oct 8 to report that Ikenaga had loitered outside their home several times and turned up at places where she used to go, after she started blocking his emails and phone calls on her cell phone in June.

The police officer who spoke with them called Ikenaga’s cell phone three times Tuesday, but his calls were not answered. It was later learned that the cell phone number police called three times that day to warn Ikenaga was not Ikenaga's phone, but a friend's phone which he had borrowed for a time after Suzuki blocked his calls. The friend told police he did not answer the calls because he did not recognize the number.

On the same day that Suzuki and her parents consulted police, Ikenaga said that he climbed up the outside of Suzuki's house and hid in a downstairs closet for about two hours. Suzuki returned home at around 4:30 p.m., at which time a police officer called her to see if she had got home safely. She said she was OK and they spoke for about 20 minutes.

Ikenaga told police he emerged from the closet after the phone call and stabbed Suzuki twice in the stomach and arm near the front door. When Suzuki ran outside, Ikenaga chased her and jumped on top of her, stabbing her in the neck. A witness saw him flee the scene.

Suzuki was taken to hospital where she died a short time later due to loss of blood. Ikenaga was arrested nearby 90 minutes later. He admitted buying a knife with the intention of killing Suzuki because she wouldn't get back together with him, police said.

After the crime, police came in for heavy criticism for their handling of the case. Police said that when Suzuki and her parents visited them on the morning of her murder, it was the first time they had been consulted.

Under the new stalking law, police have to first give an oral warning to stalkers, then a written warning if they do not stop. Police said the officer who made the three calls to Ikenaga's cell phone did so because Ikenaga had no fixed address in Tokyo and there was no way to know where he was at that time.

Police also asked Suzuki to bring copies of emails that Ikenaga had sent her so they could prepare to file a criminal complaint if he did not stop stalking her.

However, the time between Suzuki's visit to the police on the Tuesday morning and her death in the afternoon was too short for authorities to do anything, police said.

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That's a not such a bad sentence.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

StrangerlandAug. 02, 2014 - 07:41AM JST

That's a not such a bad sentence.

Unfortunately after few years he will be out ..

0 ( +0 / -0 )

He should have been sentenced to death

5 ( +9 / -4 )

Yeah, impressive sentence. Quite a contrast to the guy that got seven years for fatally abusing his kid. They are both horrendous crimes, but to me, abusing and killing your own kid is much worse.

-4 ( +2 / -6 )

What sentence would the late Ms. Suzuki's family want? They are penalized for life.

5 ( +6 / -1 )

"However, the time between Suzuki’s visit to the police on the Tuesday morning and her death in the afternoon was too short for authorities to do anything, police said."

Seriously? We hear reports all the time of complaints to police and them warnings stalkers MONTHS in advance and they still can't do anything until after the fact.

In any case, I'm glad to seeing one of these nutbags getting a 'decent' sentence for a change. 22 years ought to be enough time to have a good think on what he's done.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

What an awful, awful crime. How frightened and desperate that poor girl and her family must have been towards the end. I just shudder when I think about how easily it could happen to some young person in my life.

Sometimes I think that social media websites make it far too easy to hook up with complete strangers. Everybody please warn your students about the dangers of doing so. They'll think you're a dinosaur, but you could be saving a life.

2 ( +4 / -2 )

Does 22 year sentence in Japan mean 22 years, or a lot less due to parole, etc., like with some other countries?

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Tessa, anyone you meet for the first time is a complete stranger. I don't think that social media had much to do with this case. I think you would have more of an argument if they had met only once and he decided to stalk her, but they dated for about 5 months, it appears.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

The murder had been premeditated but police hadn't known it as soon as enough. The poor girl's family should have visited the police more early so this nightmare would not have happened.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

He deserves a life sentence without parole. Keep in mind this was a trial by lay judges. Many prisoners are paroled after serving 80 percent of their sentence in Japan. Lifers must serve at least 31 years and 8 months to be eligible for parole (2012 data). The maximum prison term allowed is 30 years per offense.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

life in prison would have been real justice.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Tessa, anyone you meet for the first time is a complete stranger. I don't think that social media had much to do with this case.

I understand what you mean. But back in the days when I was a young adult, and dating without the benefit of social media, I could be sure that even if I met a stranger in a bar, we were likely to have a lot of mutual acquaintances who were able to fill me in on all the stuff that a description on a website couldn't. For example, that he'd been in trouble with the law, or that he'd had difficult relationships in the past, or even - heaven forbid - that he was married with kids. That particular grapevine kept me out of a lot of trouble! With the use of social media, it has become very difficult to judge a person's true character, or learn anything about his background that he doesn't want us to know.

And remember being 18 (the age of the victim)? We don't always make the healthiest choices then, do we?

In many ways, I'm very glad that I didn't grow up in the age of social media.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Now if only a 22 year sentence could be given to the little psycho path who cut her friends head off. Whole heartedly glad he is getting not a slap on the hand, wish all crimes of this nature received such lengthy sentences.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Serious time for a serious crime; you can argue it should have been life (and I might agree) but at least he didn't get a slap on the wrist.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lets see if this sentence sets a presidence for future stalkers

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Lets see if this sentence sets a presidence for future stalkers

@kaimycahl Unlikely, since his primary crime is murder rather than stalking.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Life without parole at the very least. Why should he ever be allowed to be in society again enjoying his life? Her family will never know true peace again. They are the ones with a life sentence without parole.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

@yardley, you said it best. Indeed life without parole.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This scumbag is going to be free at 44 years of age to pick on another victim. Saaya will still be 18 in her grave. Her parents, if still alive, will have grown old with grief. Tell me this sentence is just??????????

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why should Japanese taxpayers pay for one additional minute of this scumbag's life? Hanging is too good for this creep!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

He will be 44 when he is free again, so still pretty young. Fair?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

you are such a pathetic weirdo stalker. go back to teaching engrish.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What kind of idiots gave "thumbs down" to disillusioned for saying that killing your own child is worse than killing an ex? I mean, how asinine are you? What normal human being WOULDN'T think that killing your own child is the worst crime imaginable? Horrible people.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I didn't give any thumbs down for that, but I do understand the feeling that all life is precious so by saying killing one person is worse is than another is, by default, saying that one life is worth more than the other.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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