Chiba cops start grilling Ichihashi

Murder suspect carrying mace, ¥300,000 at time of Osaka collar

CHIBA (Kyodo) Tatsuya Ichihashi was carrying two gun-shaped mace canisters and about ¥300,000 in cash when he was arrested Tuesday in Osaka after more than 2 1/2 years on the run, investigative sources said Wednesday.

Chiba Prefectural Police investigators began questioning Ichihashi, 30, Wednesday morning, about the circumstances leading to the 2007 slaying of Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, and about the mace. But he has so far volunteered little information.

Police also learned that Ichihashi may have worked at a construction company in Kobe between February and June of last year, investigative sources said.

The company informed police Tuesday it employed a man resembling Ichihashi who called himself Kosuke Inoue. Ichihashi is believed to have used the same alias when he went to work in August 2008 at a construction company in Ibaraki, Osaka Prefecture. He worked at stayed in the company’s dorm until last month.

Ichihashi was captured at Osaka port Tuesday evening by police officers who had received a tip that there was a man resembling someone on a wanted poster sitting on a bench in the ferry terminal building.

The investigators suspect Ichihashi was trying to flee to Okinawa from Osaka by ferry.

According to the ferry company, Ichihashi came to its office in Kobe and asked about a boat for Okinawa. An employee there who told him the boat would depart from Osaka noticed a scar on his nose that resembled the one seen on a wanted poster and notified officials at Osaka terminal.

An official at Osaka port later spotted a man wearing a knit cap and sunglasses in the waiting area and called police, they said.

When officers challenged the man, he identified himself as Ichihashi and was taken to an Osaka police station, where he was arrested after his identity was confirmed through fingerprinting.

He was brought to a Chiba police station by bullet train from Shin-Osaka Station to Tokyo Station.

According to Gyotoku Police Station in Chiba Prefecture, Ichihashi was quoted as saying, “I have no excuse and nothing to talk about,” when officers told him about the charges he faces.

Ichihashi had a beard when he visited a clinic in Nagoya for cosmetic surgery on Oct. 24, but had shaved by the time of his arrest. Images taken at Gyotoku Police Station in Chiba showed him with long wavy hair covering his face.

Ichihashi, who remained mostly silent during the train journey, appeared exhausted after being transferred from Osaka to Chiba, according to the investigators, and repeated he had nothing to say about the charges against him when he arrived at the police station. He just nodded in response to questions by the investigators, they said.