YOKOHAMA – One of three male teenagers arrested on suspicion of fatally stabbing a 13-year-old boy along the Tama River in Kawasaki has told police that the ringleader threatened him, too, with death, investigative sources said Sunday.
“At knife-point, I was told ‘I will also kill you,’ ” the sources quoted one of the group’s two 17-year-old suspects as saying. He also said he had tried to stop the assault on victim Ryota Uemura.
He and the other 17-year-old have told the police that it was the 18-year-old leader of their group who assaulted Uemura, the sources said. The names of all three are being withheld as they are minors.
The one who said he was threatened by the older boy said he went to the bank of the Tama River in a group of four that included Uemura but left after being told to “stay away” by the leader, according to the sources.
The teen then saw the first-year junior high school student lying on the ground bleeding, with the 18-year-old holding a blade nearby, the sources said.
The 18-year-old is deemed the leader of a group of youths Uemura said he had wanted to leave.
Uemura bled to death at around 2 a.m. on Feb. 20. An autopsy determined that he died of hemorrhagic shock from stab wounds to his neck. But he also had cuts on his face and arms, as well as bruises.
At around 3 a.m. the same day, a small fire in a lavatory in a nearby park appeared to have been set with the shoe soles and clothes of Uemura. The 17-year-olds have admitted to burning the objects, apparently to destroy evidence, the sources added.
They also said all three teens had been drinking before the incident.
On Saturday morning, police handed the trio over to prosecutors on suspicion of fatally stabbing Uemura at around 2 a.m. on Feb. 20.
All three have denied involvement in the slaying.
The 18-year-old has told police he was at home at the time of Uemura’s death.
Meanwhile, a man who said he knew both the 18-year-old and the victim said the older boy severely assaulted Uemura in a nighttime attack in mid-January. The 18-year-old forced Uemura to kneel and then hit him after learning he had told acquaintances he wanted to stop hanging around with the older teen, the man said.
After the assault, Uemura began to say he wanted to cut ties with the group headed by the 18-year-old, the man added.