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Recaptured Niigata escapee suspected in multiple rapes, murders

Kyodo

A suspected serial rapist who made headlines after briefly escaping from the Niigata District Court in June is now suspected of involvement in three alleged murders in Niigata Prefecture.

Police sources said Friday that items have been found which may implicate Shogo Kina, 31, in the suspicious deaths of two women in the city of Shibata.

The body of one of the two women was found in September in one of four cars found burning in a parking lot about 3 km from Kina’s home, while the corpse of another was found in a river in the city in April, three months after she went missing.

Earlier in the day, the Niigata Prefectural Police handed Kina to prosecutors on suspicion of killing a 22-year-old woman who disappeared in November and whose body was found in April, police said.

Kina, a Shibata resident, was arrested for allegedly abducting, murdering and abandoning the body of fellow resident Nozomi Tokunaga, whose skeletal remains were found in bushes about 5 km away from her home in April. The victim, who had a part-time job, had been missing since Nov. 22 after leaving home for a friend’s house.

Kina was already in custody and has been indicted for rape and other charges in connection with three women in the city who were been victimized between August and December.

Kina was put into a police car at Shibata Police Station on Friday morning and escorted to the prosecutor’s office under heavy guard to prevent him from escaping again like he did on June 27, when he was being questioned about one of the cases at the Niigata District Court.

Although he managed to get out of the courtroom and into the street, he was recaptured soon afterward.

All three cases occurred a few kilometers away from Kina’s house, investigative sources said.

According to the police, during questioning following his arrest on Thursday, Kina denied any involvement in Tokunaga’s death.

Investigative sources revealed, however, that since last summer, when Kina first moved to Shibata, he was seen driving several different vehicles.

According to residents, he first started driving a white minivehicle but later, during the winter, drove a black wagon. That vehicle was reportedly replaced with another minicar. The car he was driving in November was different from the one he used in May, right before he was arrested on suspicion of raping another woman, residents said.

According to a 30-year-old former classmate, Kina was born in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture, and during his junior high school years excelled in baseball and other sports and participated in a local athletics meet.

The man said Kina entered a high school famous for having a top-ranked baseball team but quit within a year.

Residents said Kina lived at his apartment with his wife, but failed to develop friendly ties with neighbors since moving in and was never seen greeting any of them.

“It is so fearful to think (he was a neighbor), because I have children,” said a woman in her 30s who lives nearby. She said she spoke to Kina right after he moved in, but said he didn’t speak much.

A woman in her 80s living in the same neighborhood said she had no idea about what he was doing.