A 35-year-old man was arrested Thursday after the exhumation of a body, confirmed later to be that of a missing 19-year-old female university student, east of Tokyo.
The Metropolitan Police Department arrested Koichi Hirose on suspicion of dumping the body, which was found earlier in the day on farmland in Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture, based on information provided by the suspect. The body was located 12 km from his apartment.
Hirose is said to have told police that he killed the woman after she screamed and then dumped her body. He also told police he first met the victim online before she disappeared last November.
On Nov. 20, the student took a train from Ayase Station in Tokyo to the city of Kashima, Ibaraki Prefecture, and later headed to the adjacent city of Kamisu by taxi. She exited the taxi at a convenience store at around 6 p.m.
The student, a native of Tochigi Prefecture and a resident of Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward, had asked a local resident to show her the way to Hirose’s home before she disappeared. The signal from her mobile phone cut out around 11 p.m. on Nov. 20, near the site where the body was discovered, according to investigative sources.
Last week, police searched Hirose’s home on suspicion that he abducted and confined the victim, questioning him on a voluntary basis. At that time, the suspect said he met her on Nov. 20 but she quickly went home, the sources said.
But he changed his story Wednesday. “I killed her inside the car when we met for the first time because she made a fuss. I dug a hole and buried her,” Hirose was quoted as saying.
According to local residents, Hirose moved to the apartment around last summer but did not socialize with neighbors.
“He was not sociable and looked like the kind of person who does not open his heart to others,” said a man who used to work with Hirose at a construction company in Kashima. The man said that he heard Hirose did not have a job before he moved there.
The body was discovered in a usually deserted area in Kamisu’s Suda district, which is surrounded by vast fields.