HIROSHIMA – The 16-year-old girl whose corpse was found July 13 on a mountain in Hiroshima Prefecture may have been beaten by several of the seven suspects who have been arrested in connection with the slaying, police said Friday, speculating that a quarrel over money may have also been involved.
Acquaintances of the people linked to the case also said the victim and the 16-year-old girl who, on July 12, first turned herself in and confessed to the slaying were classmates at a vocational school. The acquaintances, without elaborating, said the pair may have fought over a financial matter related to an “entertainment business” in which they were involved.
The first girl was arrested Sunday after police, based on her confession, found the victim’s corpse on Haigamine Peak in Kure the previous day. The six other suspects in the case, all 16-year-olds except Taihei Seto, 21, were arrested Wednesday. All seven are facing initial charges of dumping a body.
Police said some of the suspects have confessed to assaulting the victim on Haigamine Peak, where Seto drove everyone, including the victim, in a rented car. The vehicle was reportedly found in Tottori Prefecture.
Seto has admitted driving to the mountain but continues to deny being part of dumping the corpse. The five teens arrested Wednesday have owned up to the allegations, the police said, adding their cases were turned over to prosecutors Friday.
Some of the suspects said they beat the victim in the car and continued the assault when they got out of the vehicle on the mountain.
Authorities have examined the white rental minivan they believe the suspects and victim rode in to uncover evidence and to determine what role each suspect played.
Police said some of the suspects have claimed a decision was made beforehand to go to Haigamine Peak and the victim was not told where they were going. Sometime between 2 a.m. and 4 a.m. on June 28, the seven suspects and the victim went to the mountain, and police believe the girl was killed and her body dumped that day.
Sources close to the girl who first turned herself in on July 12 said she had engaged in some kind of entertainment business with six or seven other people during a certain period and had boasted that she made ¥1 million in the first month of work.
The victim was also allegedly engaged in the same business, and police suspect the two had money troubles.
The girl who first turned herself in initially told police that she alone perpetrated the slaying and dumped the corpse, but she later changed her statements and said others were involved in the victim’s beating. She also told police the victim was strangled, sources said.
Two of the five minors arrested Wednesday are boys. One has no fixed address and the other one lives in Yonago, Tottori Prefecture.
Records from the popular online messaging app Line indicate the girl who first turned herself in had been very vocal every day except for June 28, when she made no entries, sources said Friday.
On the morning of June 27, the girl reportedly wrote: “I’m on my way home to Hiroshima, coming back from Tottori. Last two days have been really fun.” A comment posted in the early hours of June 29 reads: “Yesterday we went to (kara)oke; it was fun, fun.” No mention was made of her alleged crimes.