• Kyodo


Police on Monday searched the house of a 22-year-old man who was allegedly involved in the abduction and confinement last week of a 7-year-old girl in Kuroiso in the prefecture.

The car believed to have been used by two men to abduct a 7-year-old girl earlier this month is impounded at the police station in Kuroiso, Tochigi Prefecture.

Police carried out the search a day after placing Kunihiko Tanaka, 21, on a wanted list over the kidnapping. They also searched the house of Tanaka’s mother in the town of Nishinasuno in the prefecture, where he visited around the time of the abduction.

Police allege that Tanaka is one of two men who kidnapped Miho Akimoto, a second-grader who was abducted shortly before noon Aug. 14 while playing with her 4-year-old sister outside their grandfather’s house.

Police said the girl was snatched by two people in a white sedan. She was found unharmed in the same city about 24 hours after her disappearance.

Police are also searching for the 22-year-old man believed to be his accomplice in the case. He was Tanaka’s classmate in elementary and junior high school and strongly resembles a police sketch of the other man involved in the crime that was drawn based on the girl’s recollection of the ordeal, investigators said. The two men were working part time at a convenience store in the city until spring last year, they said.

Earlier in the day, investigative sources said police found in Tanaka’s house a cloth sash thought to have been used to tie her hands and legs.

They also found her fingerprints on a cup-noodle bowl, in addition to a cat doll that the girl said she saw during her confinement, the sources said.

Miho quoted Tanaka as threatening to burn her grandfather’s house if she told anyone of her confinement before she was released unhurt Wednesday, the sources said.

The sources also said Tanaka ordered the girl to telephone her grandfather’s house and handed her 220 yen before he and his accomplice fled.

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