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Traces of blood found in minivan of suspect in child killings

45 Comments

Police in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, say traces of blood have been found in the minivan belonging to a 45-year-old man who has been arrested on suspicion of abandoning the body of a 13-year-old girl in the parking lot of a distribution center on the night of Aug 13.

Koji Yamada was arrested last Friday night over the murders of Natsumi Hirata and her 12-year-old classmate Ryoto Hoshino whose body, with his hands and head bound in duct tape, was found covered by grass in a bamboo grove in the mountains of nearby Kashiwara city last Friday. The cause of his death has not yet been released.

Yamada initially said that he invited Hirata to get into his van on Aug 13, but claimed that another man in the front passenger seat beat her to death in the back seat 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.

On Monday, police said a thorough investigation of Yamada's minivan revealed traces of blood inside the vehicle, Fuji TV reported. Investigators will conduct DNA tests on the blood to see if it matches the blood of the victims.

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.

Surveillance camera footage from a convenience store in Kashiwara, taken at around 12:35 p.m. on the day the two children disappeared, shows Yamada buying two roles of duct tape.

However, police said that there were no fingerprints on the duct tape found on the victims' head and hands, nor any fingerprints on their clothes. They also believe Hirata's body might have been wrapped in a sheet when it was taken to the parking lot.

Furthermore, surveillance camera footage taken as at gas station in Hirakata about an hour before Hirata's body was found shows Yamada wearing gloves as he fills up his car.

Meanwhile, NHK reported that a friend spoke with Yamada on the phone on Aug 14, and during their conversation, he said that Yamada hinted that he had done something he shouldn't have. When the friend asked what, Yamada changed the subject.

The friend also said that he was in Yamada's minivan on Aug 16 and that everytime they stopped at a red light, Yamada nervously looked in his rear-view mirror.

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 at around 5:09 a.m. on 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.

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 or where he might have confined them. An autopsy conducted on Hiarata showed that she had not eaten anything for several hours on the day of her murder.

On Aug 21, 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 TV reported. They believe Yamada may have been checking to see if Hoshino's body was still there.

Police then tracked the minivan and apprehended Yamada while he was stopped at a traffic light in Osaka on Friday night.

Yamada was seen again on security camera footage, entering the elevator at his residence at around 11:30 p.m. that night.

Yamada was arrested in March 2002 for abducting and confining an 8th-grade male student with handcuffs in his car in Neyagawa. He had asked the boy to get into his car and show him the way to the train station. He was also arrested again later that year for a similar offense.

Police said Yamada had been doing decontamination work at the Fukushima plant for about eight months, and left on Aug 11 for the Obon holiday. He returned to Fukushima from Aug 17 until Aug 19, police said.

Funeral held for Hoshino

The funeral for Ryoto Hoshino was held on Monday with about 100 of his family and friends in attendance.

Police and teachers were also on hand for the opening day of the new term at the school attended by Hoshino and Hirata.

© Japan Today

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

45 Comments
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How does a man who has clearly established he has a predilection for kidnapping children walk free in a modern society with a fully developed criminal justice system? This man never should have been able to move freely about the country. Never.

What were the outcomes for the first two offenses? Was he convicted? Were the charges thrown out? Why is there not more information available on why the glaring signposts that should have warned society that this man was a menace were effectively ignored, resulting in two young lives being snuffed out in what had to be a most horrific and terrifying manner?

Someone in a position of authority dropped the ball spectacularly with this Yamada guy and I really want to know who and why. At the very least, the parents of these two dead children deserve to know why Yamada was free to murder their children.

16 ( +16 / -1 )

the sentence to whoever did it should be same as what the victims went through.

0 ( +5 / -5 )

Last night on the news they said the suspect wasnt interested in Natsumi, but only in the little boy. Thats why she was mutilated heavily and the boy was found without any cuts.

And perhaps they can invent a permanent brace or chip that is implemented in the suspects body when they decide to let them roam free, or even better, dont let them go at all.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I'm a fan of chemical castration for those who are convicted of sexual crimes against children.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

I feel so bad for the girls. Why is this guy still alive?

-2 ( +4 / -6 )

this is one american export i would like in japan: prison justice. this guy would get his just desserts and then some.

-8 ( +1 / -9 )

If a panel of qualified psychologists declared he was likely to repeat his previous crimes, then I would support tracking or better yet, life in a mental facility.

But harsh punishment of people for simply offending once is a really bad idea. Consider that Mary Kay LeTourneau and others could have been convicted of both kidnapping and sex assault, but she and others are now married to their "victims". You can also find a couple named Frank and Nikki Rodrigues from a 20/20 special titled something like "When young love is a crime". The marriage of Courtney Stodden and Doug Hutchinson is illegal in some places.

Do I think this murderer is represented by those people? Not at all! I just don't want to see good people locked up, chemically castrated, put on an offender list for life, etc just for one legal transgression when what I see are already a lot of over-zealous laws that decent people are already running afoul of.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

@strangerland: "chemical castration"??? How about going lawyer on him like the lawyer who got his whole salami chopped off with hedgeclippers last week...

Anyways this guy is beyond redemption I am sorry to say. Time for the noose.

0 ( +3 / -3 )

Do I think this murderer is represented by those people? Not at all! I just don't want to see good people locked up, chemically castrated, put on an offender list for life, etc just for one legal transgression when what I see are already a lot of over-zealous laws that decent people are already running afoul of.

Fair enough - I agree chemical castration is not a blanket remedy. But for extreme cases, I think it's a good one.

0 ( +2 / -2 )

1800YOULOSE,

I agree completely that there has to be an established litmus test and a comprehensive review process in place before one exercises the most serious of options with offenders like Yamada. But he's not a first-time offender. He's a tragedy that waiting -- *begging: -- to happen.

He was arrested and charged for two entirely separate kidnapping incidents in 2002, both involving young boys. He's been charged for carrying a concealed weapon (a knife) when he was in his 20s and he was also a member of a bosozoku bike gang during the same period, these groups being about as anti-social as one can hope for in Japan.

This guy is most certainly not the poster child for second chances or benefit of the doubt. He's an aberration and a nightmare who somehow managed to evade the legal system long enough to butcher a little girl and (I suspect) sexual assault and kill a little boy.

Chemical castration, IMO, is far too lenient a social response to this thing's crimes. He... No, IT needs to be be permanently excised from society for the cancer it is.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well LFRAgain, if you are correct and he kidnapped boys on two separate occasions, and I mean REALLY kidnapped, and not just went to his house or got in his car, then he should have been permanently locked up.

The trouble with the way kidnapping charges are being applied today is that people are afraid to even help a child in trouble. One has to wonder if anyone who would have gotten those kids off the street thought it would only get them trouble if they did. I know one person asked them about being out late, and the girl laughed about it, but, if not for concern for getting trouble for helping, that person might have been more aggressive in their inquiries and the two kids might still be alive today.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Well, blood traces in his car are the non-surprise of the day. But obviously he did not butcher the girl inside the car, otherwise the whole car could be drenched with blood.

He must have taken the kids out of the car car somewhere; so far his is not talking, but in this case I hope the cops get him to do that.

And this passage in the article is misleading:

" 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. "

No. at 6:35, SOMEONE texted from Hiratas phone, and everybody who saw the messages, including her friends, agree that the girl would never write like this. Suddenly she writes in formal Japanese and refers to Hoshino as her "boyfriend" -- that is patently absurd.

By 6:35, the Yamada had control of the kids and had confiscated their cellphones. I think they busy looking at thousands of traffic cams now to see where he was going.

2 ( +2 / -1 )

Yeah, the safety country! I will openly admit that Japan is a safe country - if you are a middle aged man! However, there are many predators hiding amongst this large population and sadly, many of them are repeat offenders that were not locked up on the first place. Once you get passed the kimonos, sushi and origami, you find a whole new sub-culture in Japan of child pornography and sexual and child predators. Yeah, this kind of crime happens all over the world, but it makes up the majority of the serious crime in Japan. Kids cutting off other kids' heads, countless babies found dead or abused to the point of death, hundreds of stalking and ex-lover killing cases, so many random stabbing, many girls found dead in love hotels, up-skirt photography and child porn, siblings killing siblings, children killing parents, the list goes on and on! Let's not forget my personal favourite from twenty odd years ago where some nutter cut off the heads of half a dozen kids and put them on fence posts around a school in Osaka. Give me all the thumbs down you like, but there are some seriously deranged predators in this society and the facts are there for all to see! It is not a safe country! This loon should not have been in any position to capture and kill these poor kids. He was a repeat offender and should have been on a very short leash, if not in prison!

0 ( +0 / -0 )

1800YOULOSE: But harsh punishment of people for simply offending once is a really bad idea. Consider that Mary Kay LeTourneau and others could have been convicted of both kidnapping and sex assault, but she and others are now married to their "victims".

Mary Kay L. T.'s "victim" was 12 when she started with him. And she was convicted.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mary_Kay_Letourneau

0 ( +1 / -1 )

The suspect in this case was apparently arrested and convicted for two incidents in 2002. One in which he got a junior high school boy into his car under some pretext, bound him with tape and stole his money, and let him go. In the other case he got two high school boys into his car, and later let them go after getting them naked and bound with tape. He only got out of prison last fall, less than a year ago.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

1800YOULOSE

Well LFRAgain, if you are correct and he kidnapped boys on two separate occasions, and I mean REALLY kidnapped, and not just went to his house or got in his car, then he should have been permanently locked up. The trouble with the way kidnapping charges are being applied today is that people are afraid to even help a child in trouble. One has to wonder if anyone who would have gotten those kids off the street thought it would only get them trouble if they did. I know one person asked them about being out late, and the girl laughed about it, but, if not for concern for getting trouble for helping, that person might have been more aggressive in their inquiries and the two kids might still be alive today

No that's not the case.. This guy has records of committing crimes in the past.. one of them is to stop a junior high boy on the street asking him for directions (asked the boy to get into his car to navigate). He then handcuffed him, took his money and left the boy at some parking lot (blindfolded). He's also kidnapped several other kids on separate occasions and took them into his car. This guy even used his lighter to lightly burn one of the boys' face.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Mixed feelings for me, the death sentence or the rest of his life in prison as a child killer? Perhaps 10 years on death row then hang the b@st@rd.

RIP Kids.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

But harsh punishment of people for simply offending once is a really bad idea.

He had been arrested for child abduction twice, not once. And who is to say that there aren't others he has killed? He should have gotten 5 years for the first offense, and 25 years for the second offense. With this history, and now two child murders under his belt, he will certainly hang until dead, dead, dead.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

1800YOULOSE,

If you are correct and he kidnapped boys on two separate occasions, and I mean REALLY kidnapped...

The two incidents where an arrest was made involved Yamada using handcuffs to restrain and hold the children against their will. He "REALLY" kidnapped these boys.

In any case, I really don't believe the Bystander Effect is a significant factor here. The actions and decisions of Yamada are at the core of these heinous murders, and applying 20/20 hindsight to the actions (or inaction) of bystanders or people who came into contact with these kids up until the moment they were taken diminishes the responsibility Yamada ultimately bears for their murder. Inattention, apathy, or fear of being misjudged didn't kill these kids. Kiji Yamada did.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Conflicted. This guy has previous convictions. One child is enough for me to wish death penalty BUT TWO CHILDREN!!! A part of me wants this guy put out slowly - very slowly.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Just watch the news... the perp is still not talking, and if the cops have new CCTV footage, they are not sharing it. I hope they bring out the thumb-screws.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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.

No-one's buying an OJ on this one.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

The funeral for Ryoto Hoshino was held on Monday with about 100 of his family and friends in attendance.

This is the saddest part here, unless the school he went to had few classes typically in a tragedy like this hundreds of classmates or the entire school would attend the funeral.

One boy died down here a number of years ago after committing suicide, indirectly blamed on tami-flu medication. The entire JHS he went to participated in the funeral at while it wasnt a big school there were over 700 students there along with literally hundreds of parents as well.

The family of the boy was overwhelmed by the support. There were, according to the shrine, nearly 2,000 people that attended his funeral. This boy deserved more. RIP!

Death is the easy way out for this guy, he should be put in the darkest cave, in the lowest place possible, never to see freedom nor sunshine ever again in his live and be given just enough food and water to continue living making small rocks out of big ones.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Absolutely unbelievable that he had two prior kidnapping arrests, and was set free....

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Absolutely unbelievable that he had two prior kidnapping arrests, and was set free....

IHindsight is 20/20, and it's obvious that there was a system failure here, but do you incarcerate based upon potential crime or crimes that have occurred?

Do you send people to prison for life for kidnapping? What's a proper sentence in your view.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

@Mirai. Really tho. . . Pretty soon "Boy A" is gona make headlines again when decides to cut someone's head off. He was set free too. Don't worry, he's rehabilitated-

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is absolutely disgusting. This guy isn't even human. Give me the noose I'll put it around his neck myself.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

What are the murder statistics for this and the last few years.

Reading Japan Today, it makes it look like murders are happening all of the time but we know the statistics are incredible low.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why doesn't any media ask and investigate the following: "Why were two young kids out all night walking around on their own?" What kind of families did they come from, anyway. Has anyone looked into this?

0 ( +2 / -2 )

Strangerland

Chemical castration only prevents reproduction not sexual desire, so that is hardly a solution in such as case.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

@serendipitous

Chemical castration only prevents reproduction not sexual desire

Don't know where you're getting that from. It absolutely diminishes desire. That's the whole point.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

luca

How can someone who's been castrated still commit rape?

He can still have an erection. In general, castrated men experience a much-diminished sex drive, because their bodies have very low levels of the male hormone testosterone. This lowers the frequency, strength, and duration of erections, and can cause hot flashes, vertigo, loss of body hair, and breast growth. But depending on the individual, it may be possible for him to become aroused and even to ejaculate, although his erection may be modest and there won't be any sperm in his semen. Even if a castrated man can't maintain an erection, he can temporarily reverse the effect by taking testosterone. Also, rapists aren't necessarily driven by sexual desire; a lower sex drive won't prevent attacks that are motivated by a desire for power.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

lubracasi:

" Don't know where you're getting that from. It absolutely diminishes desire. That's the whole point. "

It maybe dimish the desire for sex, but is that the issue here at? As far as we know, there was no sign of molestation, only violence. Does your chemical solution diminish the desire for violence?

0 ( +0 / -0 )

i am pretty sure the death sentence is not allowed to be used

Why do you think this way? Japan has the death penalty and the gruesome nature of the crime, and shock to society could be more than enough to see it handed down here. Plus there are multiple victims, and typically that has been the line that dictates if someone gets the death penalty too. One victim, relatively low odds, two or more, bring out the rope.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Why doesn't any media ask and investigate the following: "Why were two young kids out all night walking around on their own?" What kind of families did they come from, anyway. Has anyone looked into this?

As with many things here, this will be done after the fact. Prevention is not a word commonly used here. Plus there will be little, if any news about this issue as well.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do you send people to prison for life for kidnapping? What's a proper sentence in your view.

Five years for the for the offense would fine if the victim was unharmed. But the kidnapper should get a tattoo on his forehead of some type showing that he was a kidnapper, so anyone who sees him knows what he did, and children can stay clear.

Such a tattoo would probably be a greater deterrent than possible prison time.

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

Japan needs 二十面相 it is clear that japan's laws about these kind of offenses are lacking.They just get psych evaluation and then get released again.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Do you send people to prison for life for kidnapping? What's a proper sentence in your view.

I don't know about a life sentence, but with a prior kidnapping offense, he should have been serving a much longer prison sentence, and had regular psychiatric evaluations before being allowed to road free.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Two members of society were put in harm's way because of this very sick individual.

A trial and life imprisonment seem to be his future.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I don't know about a life sentence, but with a prior kidnapping offense, he should have been serving a much longer prison sentence, and had regular psychiatric evaluations before being allowed to road free.

How much longer? And from what I know of the system here, there is an evaluation done prior to being released.

I know it's very easy to arm chair after the fact, but what needs to be done is prevention, AND that is where Japan lacks the will or desire, it seems to me at least, to doing anything proactive.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

My heart goes out to the family and friends of the victims, this is unacceptable in any society. So horrific murders, we all need to do something about this to protect our families against any violence.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

WC626:

" Pretty soon "Boy A" is gona make headlines again when decides to cut someone's head off. He was set free too. Don't worry, he's rehabilitated- "

Boy A was under-age and therefore coddled by Japanese law. This guy is 45. It is a pretty safe bet he will hang. As he should.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

From The Japan Times:

Tokyo police stopped and questioned Yamada around 12:15 a.m. on Aug. 11 while he was driving a car with a male passenger in the capital’s Akiharaba district. Aside from the stun gun and handcuffs, a syringe was also found in a bag of his, prompting police to conduct a drug test, the sources said.

His urine sample tested negative and Yamada told the police the stun gun was for self-defense, leading the police to release him three hours later after deeming that he had not violated any laws.

The police asked Yamada to hand over the stun gun voluntarily but he refused, the sources said.

Because the stun gun appeared old and did not have a battery inside, Yamada likely did not intend to use it immediately, the sources said.

Didn't Tokyo police have access to his criminal record? Wasn't he on parole, or don't they have that system in Japan? I thought I read that he was recently released from prison for other crimes involving handcuffs, children, etc. Surely, the Tokyo police must have known that. They kept him for 3 hours and must have checked. And he was allowed to keep the stun gun??? None of this makes any sense to me.

0 ( +1 / -1 )

Why doesn't any media ask and investigate the following: "Why were two young kids out all night walking around on their own?" What kind of families did they come from, anyway. Has anyone looked into this?

From what I've seen on the news, they pulled that old dodge of telling their mothers they'd be at other friend's houses sleeping over, and then went out all night.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Death is the easy way out for this guy, he should be put in the darkest cave, in the lowest place possible, never to see freedom nor sunshine ever again in his live and be given just enough food and water to continue living making small rocks out of big ones.

staying in a loneliness place for a long time drives human to commit a suicide act , I had that experience when I was young for a 43 days without a single light locked in a very dark room ( ate 10 cans of tuna only )

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

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