Skeleton found in mountains likely that of wanted robber


A skeleton found in a mountainous part of the city here in September is probably the remains of a woman wanted in connection with the June disappearance of a 55-year-old woman, local police said Tuesday.

Police said they have tentatively identified the body as that of Yoshie Yoshida, 33, and are conducting DNA tests. Yoshida was placed on a wanted list on suspicion of theft after it was learned that she withdrew money from the bank account of the husband of the missing woman, Taeko Takahashi, on the day Takahashi disappeared.

The skeleton was found Sept. 23 after passersby found a rucksack in a forest near Okayama Airport. A police search turned up the skull and arm bones.

The skull bore no sign of injury. A rope tied to the branch of a nearby tree and a pair of sneakers and handbag found nearby have led police to suspect the woman committed suicide. The body was so badly decomposed that it is unlikely they will be able to establish the time of death.

A man in his 50s who was an acquaintance of Yoshida’s and was believed to have been with her around the time of Takahashi’s disappearance committed suicide in late June, after the case came to light. The discovery that Yoshida is also dead may further hamper efforts to learn what happened to Takahashi.

Yoshida was identified from a video at a bank automatic teller machine that showed her withdrawing 500,000 yen from the account of Takahashi’s husband, Yukio, a physician, with his bank card at around 1:30 p.m. June 3.

Another 6.5 million yen was withdrawn from the same account by the end of that day.

The bank card was the one carried by Takahashi, who was last heard from when she telephoned her husband a little after 5 p.m. that day to say she was being held in a car and would be home by 6 p.m.

At around noon that day, she had called her parents to say a man in his 50s and a young woman had come to the house.