Three teenage boys were sent to prosecutors Saturday for the suspected murder and robbery of an employee of a reformatory before they escaped from the institution in Kasugai, Aichi Prefecture, early Friday, police said.
The police said the three — two aged 15 and one aged 14 — admitted the charges after being arrested Friday.
The trio, however, said they did not intend to kill the 34-year-old employee of Aichi Gakuen prefectural reformatory, according to the police.
“We didn’t intend to kill Mr. Morino. We just didn’t want to be transferred to a stricter juvenile facility,” the police quoted one of the boys as saying during an interrogation.
The police said Shigemasa Morino, a resident of Kasugai, was found lying in a reformatory lounge around 12:30 a.m. Friday. He was immediately taken to a hospital where he was declared dead, they said.
A few days before the incident, the boys apparently believed that two of them would be transferred Friday to a stricter juvenile institution. The reformatory has said there were no such plans.
There are no indications that the boys harbored grudges against Morino, the police said.
The three were rounded up Friday by the police along with two other escapees, aged 12 and 13, at a nearby convenience store.
The two younger escapees were reported to a juvenile counseling center before being sent to the Nagoya Family Court on Friday. The court deemed it necessary to put them under constant watch and transferred them to a juvenile facility in Nagoya the same day.
The police said the 12-year-old cannot be accused of a crime because he is under 14, adding that the other boy was not involved in the murder but was nonetheless reported to the juvenile counseling center.
A juvenile counseling center supervises the conduct of youths reported to it, and decides whether or not to transfer them to the family court.
According to investigators, the boys pretended to quarrel twice in the lounge and tied Morino up when he tried to intervene. They allegedly strangled him before stealing his wallet containing about 50,000 yen from his locker.
The boys used Morino’s key to escape from the facility, which was locked from the inside, the police said.
According to the reformatory, four of the five had run away last Saturday but were brought back two days later.
Thirty-eight boys and girls are being held at the reformatory for various offenses. The five who escaped were sent there last year or earlier this year for robbery and blackmail.