Briton’s suspected murderer on run; father pleads for help

by Setsuko Kamiya

CHIBA — Police were hunting nationwide for Tatsuya Ichihashi, 28, Wednesday in connection with the death of Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, as her father appealed to the public for any piece of information that might lead to his capture.

William Hawker and Lindsay’s boyfriend, Ryan Garside, arrived in Japan earlier in the day and held a long meeting with police.

“I know that Lindsay was not in any sort of relationship with the suspect. I believe my daughter was tricked into going to this man’s apartment under the pretext of an English lesson,” a tearful Bill Hawker said during a news conference in Chiba. “My daughter was a very lovely girl. She would help anybody. And because she would help anybody she is where she is now.”

NHK reported that Hawker was believed to have promised to provide private English lessons to Ichihashi. They had only recently become acquainted, according to reports.

Police sources said Ichihashi fled Monday night when officers came to his Ichikawa condominium to question him about Hawker’s disappearance, losing his shoes in the subsequent chase.

Police found Hawker’s naked body buried in sand in a bathtub on the balcony of the flat, with just part of a hand protruding. The Nova Corp. language school where she worked had reported her missing.

Police obtained an arrest warrant Tuesday for Ichihashi on suspicion of abandoning her body and put him on the nationwide wanted list.

Hawker said his daughter wanted to become a teacher.

“Before coming to Japan, she had researched extensively on the Net. We all agreed that Japan was a safe place and a good society,” he said, adding that he and his wife and another daughter had visited Lindsay at Christmas and had been proud when they saw where she worked and lived.

The news conference began three hours later than scheduled and a British Embassy official said the two men had spent more time with police than expected. Hawker also said he has spoken extensively to investigators and was satisfied with their handling of case so far.

Garside, Lindsay’s boyfriend of four years, also made a short statement at the news conference. He said he was planning to join Lindsay in June. He said he was going to work as a teacher and the two would live together and eventually marry.

Police suspect that between Sunday night and early Monday Ichihashi moved the bathtub from the bathroom to the balcony and put Hawker’s body into it. Neighbors said they heard sounds of something striking metal and something being dragged during that period, the sources said.

Information from Kyodo added