OSAKA — Police looking into the abduction earlier this week of an 8-year-old girl in Settsu, Osaka Prefecture, have singled out a 47-year-old man residing in northern Osaka Prefecture as an important witness, sources close to the investigation said Thursday. According to the sources, fingerprints found on a letter left by the abductor of Sayaka Teranishi match those of the man, a former company employee. The man in question has gone missing and police are attempting to locate him, they added. The man not only fits the girl’s description of the kidnapper — he has also been found to have been a business acquaintance of a person in her family, the sources said. Police also believe that there is a good possibility the former employee is the man with whom Teranishi was seen walking in a park in Settsu right before she was released, the sources said. Police will call him in for questioning as soon as he is found, they added. Teranishi was safely reunited with her parents Wednesday morning, 42 hours after she was kidnapped on her way home from school. She has described her abductor as a man in his 40s about 170 cm tall with thinning hair. She said the man spoke in the Osaka dialect and drove a white car. The fingerprints of the former company employee were discovered on a three-page ransom note that was taped to the bottom of a mailbox in Osaka’s Higashi-Yodogawa Ward on Monday night, sources said. He lives in an area neighboring the city of Suita, Osaka Prefecture, where the abductor demanded the ransom money of 42 million yen be delivered. Judging from the information, police have decided to search for the man as an important witness in the case, according to the sources. On Thursday, it was learned that the child told police that on her way home from school on the day she was kidnapped, a toy fell out of the back of a parked mini-wagon. When she ran up to the car and bent over to pick it up, she was forced into the vehicle by a man and told to lie down on the seat. It is about a 10-minute walk from the school to Teranishi’s home, and there have been several witness reports of a suspicious-looking white car and a man with thinning hair along the route, according to investigators, adding that it was highly likely the culprit had carefully studied Teranishi’s actions prior to committing the crime.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.