FUKUOKA – A 9-year-old girl was fatally stabbed in Nijo, Fukuoka Prefecture, during a hostage standoff Monday after more than a day of negotiations between police and her uncle went awry.
Shiho Nakata was fatally stabbed in the abdomen about 20 minutes before police stormed the house at 12:26 a.m. She was pronounced dead at the scene. An autopsy performed Monday showed that girl bled to death.
Nakata’s uncle, Tadashi Kawamura, 36, was taken into custody on suspicion of murder and confinement.
The ordeal, which lasted nearly 38 hours, began at around 10:30 a.m. Saturday when an agitated Kawamura took the girl and his mother-in-law, Hatsue Nakata, 64, hostage at knifepoint at the home of his brother-in-law, Yasuhiko Nakata, 37.
Kawamura, who was described as unemployed, was reportedly in the midst of divorce proceedings with his wife.
The brother-in-law immediately alerted police shortly after he came home at 8 p.m. Saturday.
After holing up on the second floor, Kawamura demanded to see his wife, 41, and children, police said. He released his mother-in-law unharmed Sunday afternoon after relatives and police tried to convince him to free the hostages.
Norio Inoue, chief of the criminal investigation division at the Fukuoka Prefectural Police, held a news conference early Monday and expressed regret for the girl’s slaying.
“We feel sorry for the family, who wished for her to be rescued safely,” he said.
Police are likely to come under fire for the outcome of the standoff because they were using a microphone to monitor what was going on inside the house and thus should have been able to prevent the girls’ death.
At the news conference, police said investigators had spoken with the girl several times by telephone and had confirmed she was alive by using the microphone. They said they heard her crying at around 11:30 p.m. Sunday.
Less than an hour later, however, they stormed the house only to learn she had been killed, they said.
The officers claimed they were unable to rescue the girl because Kawamura was armed with a kitchen knife and in close proximity to her.
The mother-in-law told neighbors her daughter had frequently changed residences to avoid Kawamura.
Kawamura was arrested in April on suspicion of physically abusing his wife, police said.
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