Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested a 29-year-old man Thursday on suspicion of fatally stabbing a 19-year-old girl last week in Tokyo’s Taito Ward.
The suspect, identified as Makoto Yamaguchi from Sapporo, allegedly stabbed Mayuko Ogawa, a second-year student at Toita Women’s College, while she was walking down a street in the Asakusa district at around 10:35 a.m. on April 30.
Ogawa, who was on her way to watch a friend take part in a Brazilian jujitsu match at a nearby gymnasium, sustained wounds to the chest, abdomen and back.
According to police, the suspect was found working at a construction site in Shibuya Ward earlier in the day and was brought in for questioning, where he admitted to the allegations.
Police, who had been investigating the murder as a random attack, were still questioning him over his motive Thursday evening.
Sources close to the investigation said Yamaguchi had a tendency to wander about, often leaving his home for long periods.
Born in Sapporo in 1972, he lived with his parents and younger brother and sister, but held no steady job after completing night school courses for high school, the sources said.
After his mother died in 1989, the family moved within the city several times, they said.
According to police, the most important clue in the case was a strange-looking cap — shaped like a lesser panda — that the attacker was seen wearing.
What is believed to be the same cap was found in the bushes of a park near the site of the attack the following day, and after a photograph of the cap was released, scores of people contacted police claiming they had seen or spoken with a man wearing a similar head piece.
The sightings, which included one report that a man with a similar cap had stayed at capsule-type hotels on at least two occasions, seemed to be concentrated in the area around JR Ueno Station and Asakusa, according to police.
In February, Yamaguchi stayed one night at the Ueno Police Station, saying that he wanted to return to Hokkaido but had no money. The name and address he gave at the time were his real ones, police said, adding that he had been wearing an animal hat.
A breakthrough in the case came earlier this week, when investigative sources said police received a report that a man wearing the same kind of cap was on a ferry from Muroran, Hokkaido, to Oarai, Ibaraki Prefecture, on April 2.
The man gave a Sapporo address and listed his name as Yamaguchi in the ferry’s boarding register — later confirmed to be the residence and name of a man who matched descriptions of the killer.
Earlier Thursday, investigators said they received a tip that a man resembling the suspect was seen in the vicinity of Oarai port Tuesday.
According to sources, this man entered a convenience store near JR Oarai Station and purchased 17 chocolate bars, two “onigiri” rice balls and some packets of instant noodles before getting into a taxi he had kept waiting outside.
A man also fitting the description was also spotted filling out the register of the ferry departing for Muroran at 11:30 p.m. that evening. However, there was no Yamaguchi listed on the register for that ferry, sources said.
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