PHONE CALLS PROVE PAIR'S UNDOING

Kidnappers left cellular trail

Kyodo

Kanagawa Prefectural Police determined the whereabouts of the alleged kidnappers of a 7-year-old boy by tracing calls made from cellular phones, police sources said Wednesday.

Police pinpointed one of the kidnappers at the hot springs town of Arima, Hyogo Prefecture.

By tracing calls from another suspect, police could also tell that the boy, Toru Akiyama, was being confined somewhere in Yokohama’s Kanagawa Ward, according to the sources.

The boy was rescued unhurt early Tuesday from an apartment in the ward.

Also early Tuesday, police arrested Yuichi Mizutani, 37, in Arima and Giichi Horigome, 55, in Yokohama on suspicion of kidnapping Akiyama and demanding 30 million yen in ransom.

Although prepaid cellular phones do not allow an exact tracing of calls, they enabled police to get a rough idea of the suspects’ whereabouts.

Mizutani made several calls to the boy’s father, Hayato Akiyama, on Sunday from a bullet train, ordering him to deposit the ransom money in a bank account, the sources alleged.

Calls were made from Mishima, Shizuoka Prefecture, then Nagoya and Osaka and finally in Nishinomiya, Hyogo Prefecture, they said.

On Monday, police successfully traced Mizutani’s call from Arima and immediately asked Hyogo Prefectural Police for help, resulting in Mizutani’s and later Horigome’s arrest, they said.

Police found the boy at Mizutani’s apartment in the town of Katakura — five days after he was kidnapped while on his way home from school. Horigome was with the boy in the apartment.

Kanagawa police had concluded Akiyama was being held somewhere in or around Katakura because most of the calls in which the boy’s voice was heard came from that area, the sources said.

Akiyama was kidnapped in Yokohama’s Hodogaya Ward while walking home from school with two classmates at around 2 p.m. on April 20, police said.

The boy was spending Wednesday relaxing with his family at their Yokohama home, his mother, Mariko, 29, said. The boy will stay home from school this week to recover from his ordeal, she told reporters.

She said the boy awoke shortly before 8 a.m. Wednesday, played video games and told her he was all right.

On Tuesday night, he was relaxed and took a bath with his father, but did not fall asleep until after midnight.