An unemployed 45-year-old man who has been charged with abandoning the body of a 13-year-old girl in the parking lot of a distribution center in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, on the night of Aug 13, has told police that a male passenger in his minivan killed the girl, but he has refused to name the man.
Koji Yamada, a resident of Neyagawa, was arrested on Friday night for questioning in the murder of Natsumi Hirata, who disappeared along with her 12-year-old classmate Ryoto Hoshino, on Aug 13. Hoshino’s body, his hands and head bound in duct tape, was found covered by grass in a bamboo grove in the mountains of nearby Kashiwara city on Friday, Fuji TV reported. An autopsy will be held to determine the cause of death.
Hirata’s body was found behind a truck in the parking lot at around 11:35 p.m. on Aug 13. 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 she had been suffocated, probably about four or five hours before her body was found.
Yamada was quoted by police as saying he called out to Hirata near Keihan Neyagawashi Station, and said he would give her lift, but did not say at what time of the day this happened, Fuji TV reported. He also denied killing Hirata and said another man in the front passenger seat beat the girl in the back seat and that Hirata was dead before he knew it. He said the other man dumped the body in the parking lot. However, Yamada has refused to say anything further about the man, nor has he said anything about Hoshino’s fate.
Yamada also said he had never met Hirata before.
Yamada surfaced as a suspect after police analyzed street surveillance camera footage along the national route between Keihan Neyagawashi Station, where Hirata and Hoshino were last seen on the morning of Aug 13, and the parking lot of the distribution center where Hirata’s body was left.
The license plate of each vehicle caught on camera was checked one by one and an ash-gray minivan appeared to resemble the one that was seen going in and out of the parking lot an hour before Hirata’s body was found. That led police to Yamada.
Police said that surveillance camera footage also showed Yamada's minivan on a street near the arcade twice between 5:10 a.m. and 5:30 a.m.
On Friday morning before dawn, police started following Yamada’s minivan, which went to the mountainous area in Kashiwara. After Yamada left, police searched the area and found Hoshino’s body, Fuji reported. Police then tracked the minivan and apprehended Yamada while he was stopped at a traffic light in Osaka on Friday night.
On Saturday, police said they have also obtained surveillance camera footage from a convenience store in Kashiwara, taken at around 12:35 p.m. on the day the two children disappeared, that shows Yamada buying duct tape.
Yamada was seen again on security camera footage, entering the elevator at his residence at around 11:30 p.m. that night.
Meanwhile, Sankei Shimbun reported that Yamada was arrested in March 2002 for abducting and confining an 8th-grade male student in his car in Neyagawa. He has been decontamination work at the stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, and finished there on Aug 11 before taking a break for the Obon holiday. He returned to Fukushima from Aug 17 until Aug 19, police said.
The children’s last known movements
Here is what is known so far about the two victims' last movements.
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.
Japanese media have speculated that Yamada may have sent the 6:35 a.m. message, and not Hirata, although they still do not know at what time the children were taken by the suspect.
The arcade is a short walk from the train station. A boy that looked like Hoshino was seen placing his bicycle in a paid parking spot outside the station at around 3 p.m. on the afternoon of Aug 13. Hirata’s bike was found nearby. However, police said they are now not sure who parked Hoshino's bike there.© Japan Today
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He had previous record of abduction of a child , arrested and released ... and he did it again this time by killing two children ... I do not know what he will do next when he is out ... !!!
Whoever did this to such young innocent kids, I hope they spend a long time in prison and one morning the executioner comes and hangs the swine(s). Do nonce's in Japan get the same treatment as other countries? I hope this too.
I don´t believe the "other man" story, but I hope the cops squeeze the truth out of him.
I hope the Police squeeze this mans brains till they know every last detail. Can only hope the people closely affected can find peace in life again.
It seems likely that the story of running away to Kyoto was fabricated and sent by the killer, not by Hinata-san. However, if so, then why later that day was Hoshino-san seen at 3pm parking his bike outside the station? It's strange the killer would wait one week to dispose of Hoshino-san's body as well. Still very puzzling...and extremely sad.
My heart goes out to these two innocent children and their families and friends, this is just sickening and unforgivable. Rest in peace Hinata and Hoshino.
Was he? When did you hear that? The news I watched sad that someone parked his bike in that expensive paid bike parking rack, but there was no camera footage. The assumption that the murdered did that. The reason the knew the time is that the parking system registered it.
The suspect is probably a paranoid schizophrenic. He won't see a day in jail, but you can bet he'll be in the madhouse for a long time to come.
Yeah, the last part of this article here states it: "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."
I agree, it's much more likely that the murderer parked it there. Maybe it's an error. But there's still a 12-hour time lapse between the kidnapping and time of deaths that is unexplained, not to mention what he did during the week between disposing of their bodies individually.
Well, seeing that he is child molester interested in boys, I don´t really want to know graphically what he was doing with the boy after he got rid of the girl. But I do hope the cops squeeze it out if him, in any way possible.
I believe the statement in article that the boy "was seen" parking his bike is in error, unless the writer has some information that Japanese TV news does not.
I don't know where some of you got the idea that the killer used Hirata's cell phone to text a message to her friend that she and Hoshino were going to Kyoto. I've been reading the Japanese news and Yamada has certainly made no such statement to police, or at least, it hasn't been released to the media.
Besides, the time factor doesn't seem to bear that out. We know for a fact, from the shopping arcade camera footage, that Hirata and Hoshino were still alive at 5:09 a.m. That message about going to Kyoto was sent to Hirata's friend at 6:35 a.m. It seems improbable that Yamada grabbed the kids that early, took them somewhere, texted Hirata's friend and then kept them confined all day. The autopsy revealed Hirata was killed around 7 p.m. that night.
The prevailing theory is that they were grabbed sometime during the day. That's more plausible. Why would Yamada have been out looking for a victim at that time of day anyway? He couldn't logically hope to find a child by him/herself at that time of the morning. Furthermore, it was raining between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m., which is why the kids hung out in the arcade.
NHK said camera footage showed a boy that looked like Hoshino parking his bicycle in the afternoon, but that's the only reference I found. If that's true, where were the kids from morning until the afternoon?
But anyway, we won't know for sure until Yamada starts talking.
On various news sites, such as Senkei - http://www.sankei.com/west/news/150822/wst1508220046-n1.html.
Security footage around the station shows a grey van very similar to that was found in the distribution company carpark in Takatsuki, pull up around 5:10 am, which was the last time that both children were seen in the same area.
I don´t think anybody suggested that Yamada was "out looking for a victim". It seems more plausible that this was a crime of opportunity. He saw his chance and took it.
The fact that that the message about going to Kyoto and not coming back was written in formal Japanese would support the theory that he wrote them. Look at the other message the kids texted (they showed them on TV). Does any of them look like a complete sentence in proper Japanese? If that is the case, he came across them early morning, got them into is car, and subdued them quickly.
But you are right, the perp should start talking.
I am confused by all the time references in this article. Also, while junior high kids should be able to stay out as long as they want during vacation without being harmed like this, as a parent I would be awake all night wondering where my kids are. Kind of Tony Micelli, Who's the Boss like, but not quite. BTW, why is it that unemployed men are the usual M.O. for this kind of disgusting crime? Sad as all heck. RIP
@Brainiac "I don't know where some of you got the idea that the killer used Hirata's cell phone to text a message to her friend that she and Hoshino were going to Kyoto."
The messages have been shown on many programs for several days as well as interviews with Hirata's friend(s?) that received them. The writing style is completely different from Hirata's usual style, it's worded in a way to hint to the friend not to tell Hirata's parents where she had supposedly gone, it refers to Hoshino as her boyfriend but the friend says Hirata and Hoshino were just friends and each had someone else they considered to be their girl/boyfriend. There is a strong possibikty that someone else wrote the messages or directed Hirata what to write.
@Ichiben "Security footage around the station shows a grey van very similar to that was found in the distribution company carpark in Takatsuki"
No vehicle was found in the car park, it was only seen on very poor quality security camera footage from a neighboring company.
Arrested?!? Well, what about convicted? Or given a jail sentence? Or found not guilty. What happened?
Why does the Japanese media always have so much half-baked info in their crime stories?
I believe they said on the news this morning that he spent some time in jail for it.
"while junior high kids should be able to stay out as long as they want during vacation" No way! Get kids home by sunset. There is nothing they can do at night that could be "good". That could be done in the light the next day.
12 and 13 year old kids should not be running around the streets late at night and this is exactly why. Generally, Japan is a pretty safe country, but there are still some monsters running around preying on the defenseless. Possibly, it's not as safe as people make it out to be. If you are a middle-aged man it's ok, but if you are a child or a woman the circumstances are a lot different.
This guy's story does not make sense and I'm sure he will eventually break-down and give the details of what happened. If it was his 'friend' that killed the little girl he should have been at the cop shop immediately and not hiding. If his 'friend' story is true, is he willing to face the noose for his 'friend'?
This maggot has form and with two pre-meditated murders will swing. Sayonara with you and your cheap trilby.
Geez Davnetcat, you left out half my sentence, so it changed the meaning. Please add "...without being harmed like this." I was speaking idealistically. And if you had read the rest of my post you would have seen that I would have been up all night looking for my kids.
So long as the guy won't say who did it, since all he'll say is, "Wasn't me!", then he should be the one held completely responsible for both murders, among other charges. Even if he does name names, and it can be proven, he should be charged as an accomplice and get just as severe a sentence. But I think we all know he's lying, given the premeditation that seems to be involved, and that he's kidnapped little kids before. For that, and double murder, I'd say this guy is toast. Good riddance.
Well, all of her messages were in typical Kansai ben like any Osaka person would talk in. That message was in standard Japanese and the killer is from Nagoya originally I believe.
His "friend?" More like an imaginary friend. I don't for a second buy his story.
This guy was already arrested for confining a boy in 2002. WTH. Isn't there a predator list in Japan? Japanese law is just too lenient on criminals like these, and that's why you get repeat offenders. I'm afraid if the system doesn't change there will be another tragedy like this.
This is simply the most horrific story of human depravity I've seen in years.
I don't really care whose sensibilities the follwing offends; if his crimes are proven to be true, this man should most certainly die for his offenses. No one who so methodically stalks then kills children, for f### sake, has any right whatsoever to share this plane of reality with the rest of us. No one. If I had the opportunity, I'd pull the trigger myself.
It does not seem like he stalked them. He came across them early morning by chance, got them into his car, and murdered them in the afternoon. What he did with them between morning and afternoon, the police is trying to find out now. I hope they don´t wear velvet gloves.
The charge of "abandoning a body" is curious. Does that mean that if one finds a body but then walks on that one can be committed on that charge? And does that mean in this case that it is a mere "holding" charge until the police can pin the murder on him once they can dispose of his obviously fabricated alibi? Forensics really need to be on top of their game in this case to prove he murdered them if in fact he did.
The parents are part to blame because who lets there thirteen year old stay out until 5:00am. They shall forever live with how they improperly raised their child in grief.
Do you live in Japan? This is the standard procedure here. They charge him with the only thing they are absolutely sure about so that they can hold him. Don´t worry, they will get to the other stuff soon.
It never ceases to amaze me how sanctimonious people can be; heaping abuse one two mothers who've just had their children murdered. Many Japanese women are single mothers working one or more jobs just so that their ingrate kids have roofs over their heads and food on the table. On top of that they may be doing all the shopping, house cleaning and looking after elderly parents. Can we reasonably expect them to also keep a 24-hour watch on their children as well? Kids these days are often more concerned with hanging out with their friends, surfing the net and immersing themselves in social media than they are with even talking to their mothers, let alone helping them. And lets put some blame where it belongs. These two kids were both seriously stupid even for 12 year old's.
No, they were not stupid. They were 12-year-olds.
Neither of them had any money so they would not realistically be able to get to Kyoto by train or bus. Unless they were trying to hitch hike.
Japanese media is reporting a woman who says she was repeatedly stalked by this guy from September last year and although she reported it to the police each time, they do not seem to have followed it up. She says perhaps the whole thing could have been prevented if they had. Apparently there were also various complaints of attempted child abductions etc., in the vicinity of his apartment block.
@ nandakandamanda: With child predators like this unemployed 45-year-old man, the J-cops will probably find out other abductions, harassment's and near abductions may be linked in his area. Children that were afraid or embarrassed to talk about their encounters may come forth admitting contact with this coward. Since he was 32 years old at the time he was first caught, he has probably been developing ways not to be caught. Lets hope Japanese justice gives him the punishment he deserves. If there was a second perpetrator, the sentence should be doubled.
These two children's lives should of never been taken by this less than human criminal.
RIP these 2 children.
I'm not a fan of the death penalty but it's hard not to support such a punishment in this case and he may well get it actually.
I hope hosblife is diminished before he sees the judge
"They charge him with the only thing they are absolutely sure about so that they can hold him."
Anyone without a charge can be held for up to 30 days here.
This incident is so terrible. He grabbed sometime around 5. By 6:35 he texted from the girls phone. And around 7:00 they died. But what did he do with them between morning and evening? Around noon he bought the tape that he used to murder them (they suffocated), and he was alone. So at that time they were somewhere and still alive. The creep did not explain anything yet, I so hope the police go medieval on him until he does.
It's all on the damn parents!!! Kids those ages should been in the damn house at that hour!!! I hope he get killed in prison. One thing I absolutely hate is crime against children!!! Japan is still much much safer then the u.s. But bottom line kids shoulda been in the house.... Shame on both parents!!!!
Autopsie says the girl was beaten and stabbed many times while still alive. Then she died because he wrapped the sticky tape around her head and she could not breathe. The boy`s body was too decomposed to say for sure, but it seems to look similar. I can not get this out of my head. What an animal.
I think parents of children aged between around 10 to 16 can be "reasonably" expected to keep about a 9-hour "watch on their children" (e.g. from 10pm to 7am). There might also be a legal responsibility to ensure these kids are home by 10 (I think in Japan it depends on the prefecture). Without wishing to appear "sanctimonious", I have to say if my 13-year-old daughter hadn't come home by midnight and I wasn't sure where she was, I'd be going up the wall with worry and out on the streets, with the police, searching for her.
The cops are finding more "CCTV" footage about the perp. Looks like he was driving around all over the place all morning, so the children must have been in his car. The windows are covered with dark foil, so you can not see inside. And from the timeline it is pretty clear that he confiscated their iphones early on, so they could not communicate. And the autopsy says they ate nothing all day until they were killed, so this was not a friendly situation (it obviously did not start with a "hey I buy you breakfast" thing). Creepier and creepier.
And you obviously don't hold a degree in criminal psychology.
Going hard on people for lesser crimes only ensures they kill their victims to try and avoid getting punished so hard again.
This one is the exception to the rule. If you change the rule to fit the exception, you will have very bad results to show for it.
Its also worth considering that China has not eliminated crime or created a virtual utopia for putting bullets in the back of the heads of convicted criminals. Those shot in the head don't repeat their crimes. So why isn't China crime free?
I'm sure it's a matter of time before the truth is revealed. Whoever did it, solitary confinement for life with nothing but a noose in the room sounds reasonable to me.
Latest news says he bought a stun gun and handcuffs the day before the murder. That would explain how he kept the kids subdued in his car while he was driving around all morning. He then switched to tape, presumable because he was clever enough to figure out that handcuffs could be traced. What a piece of work.
The timeline above is very confusing.....