About 40 police officers resumed their search on Sunday for a 7-year-old girl who disappeared from a mountainous campsite at Doshimura, Yamanashi Prefecture, in 2019. The renewed search came after fragments of a human skull, believed to be that of a child, two sneakers and a sock were found last week.
Despite intermittent rain, searchers continued to look for further remains or possessions belonging to Misaki Ogura who vanished from the campsite on Sept 21, 2019, NHK reported. The skull fragments were found on a mountain trail 600 meters from the campsite on April 23. A right green sneaker, the size of a child’s foot, was found on Thursday, and a left sneaker, also, green, as well as a sock were found on Friday, about 300 meters from where the skull fragments were found.
Police believe recent heavy rain may have brought the skull fragments and sneakers downstream, or uncovered them where they were buried.
Misaki’s mother, Tomoko, who has been at the campsite each day since Thursday, told media the green sneakers were identical to those belonging to her daughter but said she had not given up hope that Misaki was still alive somewhere.
Police said a forensic analysis of the skull fragment has not conclusively proven that it is the missing girl’s.
Misaki had come to the campsite with her mother and sister in a group of about 30 people. She was last seen running by herself behind some other children after eating snacks at around 3:40 p.m. Her mother watched her run off and turn left into the woods. That was the last time anyone saw her. She was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and jeans.
More than 1,700 police, Self-Defense Force personnel and volunteers searched for her, using tracker dogs and a drone equipped with a sensor capable of detecting body heat. A stream runs through the woods down the mountain but a search downstream proved fruitless. Police also checked nearby farmhouses and empty huts.
Since Misaki disappeared, Tomoko has been on the receiving end of hateful messages online.
In October 2020, police in Narita City, Chiba Prefecture, arrested a 69-year-old man on suspicion of defamation of character. Yukio Nogami, a self-professed investor, posted a video image of Tomoko on his blog, claiming that a crowd-funding campaign to help keep the search going for her missing daughter Misaki was a scam.
A 31-year-old man from Shizuoka Prefecture was arrested for making an online threat to kill Tomoko. The man, Katsuji Saitsu, a construction worker, posted multiple messages on Facebook from Oct 22 to Nov 16, 2019, in which he told Ogura, "I know you’re the culprit. Hurry up and turn yourself in. I'm going to kill you."
Since Misaki’s disappearance, her family has handed out more than 430,000 flyers to campers and passengers at a nearby train station. Anyone with any information on Misaki is asked to call Yamanashi prefectural police at 0554-22-0110.
The search will resume on Monday morning.© Japan Today