In March 2007, police found the bound and gagged corpse of 22-year-old English teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker in a bathtub on the balcony of an apartment occupied by an unemployed 28-year-old man named Tatsuya Ichihashi -- who fled the scene in his bare feet before he could be arrested.
During two years and seven months on the lam, Ichihashi worked as a laborer in Kansai and underwent plastic surgery to alter his appearance. He was apprehended last Nov 10 at Osaka port while attempting to board a ferry to Okinawa.
Shukan Bunshun (Aug 12-19) tracked down an associate of the slain teacher, identified only as "A," who gives the magazine her version of events.
"Ichihashi had accosted her in front of her station," A relates. "I suppose a lot of skeptics had asked, 'Why did she let him walk her home?' But Ichihashi was extremely persistent and perhaps Lindsay felt, rather than stand with him outside on the dark street, she'd feel safer at home, where her roommate was waiting."
At the door, Ichihashi sketched Lindsay's portrait on a sheet of paper, with his telephone number at the bottom. She agreed to meet him for English conversation lessons four days later at a nearby coffee shop.
"Lindsay had remarked there was 'something creepy' about the guy, and for her peace of mind only gave him lessons in the morning," A continues. "Why she agreed to go to his apartment I'll never understand. Considering that she didn't phone the school, despite penalties imposed on teachers for not showing up, I suppose he must have had her restrained in his room."
Thirty-six hours were to transpire until the police discovered her corpse.
"After I got a call that she'd gone missing, I started searching for her," A says. "By coincidence I walked past a 'mansion' and saw the yellow crime scene tape ... I felt this vague premonition, and then I asked a bystander who told me, 'It looks like there's been a murder. An English national,' and I was struck dumb. I put my hands against my head and crumpled."
The proprietor of an eatery regularly patronized by Ichihashi, who had been doggedly uncommunicative around the time of the incident, opened up to Shukan Bunshun's reporter.
"I haven't mentioned this to anyone before, but several days after Ichihashi first approached Lindsay, he brought her here," the man says. "They seemed to be getting along well, but I could see that Tatsuya-kun was treating her in a domineering manner."
Ichihashi, who faces charges of abandonment of a corpse, homicide and aggravated rape resulting in death, currently occupies a cell in the detention facility at Chiba prison. He completely denies all of the charges.
"As forensic evidence exists of his having committed rape, he's admitted to that," a court reporter is quoted as saying. "But it's expected his attorney will contest other charges, arguing that 'she died as a result of his efforts to quiet her down after she raised a ruckus' and that he had 'attempted to revive her with mouth-to-mouth resuscitation.' Pre-trial arrangements are still ongoing and I think it will be difficult for the trial to begin within this year."
Ichihashi's attorney has also asserted his client had "felt great remorse" over the incident during his time on the run. He also complained that Ichihashi's jailers were engaging in "discriminatory treatment."
Shukan Bunshun gives A the last word on the subject.
"Despite their liking Japan, a lot of Lindsay's friends and colleagues left the country as a result of this incident," she tells the magazine. "They're all hoping Ichihashi will receive the maximum punishment."
In closing, the article adds ironically that Lindsay had remarked she "very much" liked Japan because she felt it was a "safe country."© Japan Today