• Kyodo

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A 3-year-old boy was briefly kidnapped and stripped naked by a stranger in April at a shopping mall near where a 4-year-old boy disappeared Tuesday evening, police sources said Friday.

In addition, Nagasaki police have learned that similar incidents in which small boys were targeted had taken place at the shopping mall in recent months.

The 4-year-old, who went missing from an electric appliance shop in Nagasaki, was later found dead.

Police are looking into a possible connection between the April case and the kidnapping-murder of Shun Tanemoto, who was apparently thrown off the roof of a parking garage in central Nagasaki, the sources said.

Tanemoto’s bloodied and naked body was found Wednesday morning.

According to the sources, the April incident took place at a multiple-use complex of condominiums and a shopping mall. It is about 1 km from Yamada Denki Tech Land, where Tanemoto disappeared while shopping with his family.

The 3-year-old boy was shopping at the mall with his parents and a 9-year-old sister around 2 p.m.

The boy, who was playing with his sister on the second floor of the shopping center, disappeared while his sister let him out of her sight.

He was later found naked and crying on the fifth floor near an elevator. He later told his family he had been stripped naked by a man on a stairway between the fifth and sixth floors.

Nagasaki police have asked the operator of the shopping mall to submit video images captured by anticrime monitors on that day, according to the sources.

Just one day before the April case, a 4-year-old boy playing on the second floor was taken by an unidentified man to a parking lot on the fifth floor. He suffered injuries to his jaw when the man pushed him on the ground, the sources said.

Last year, a 7-year-old boy complained that a man had touched him inside an elevator, and an 11-year-old boy said he had been molested inside a lavatory, according to the sources.

Shun Tanemoto disappeared after telling his parents he was going to play at a TV game corner of the electric appliance shop.

His body was found in the central part of the city, about 4 km from the shop. Police suspect the boy was kidnapped at the shop and taken to the site in a vehicle.

A police autopsy showed that Tanemoto was likely thrown off the roof of the garage sometime between 8 p.m. and midnight Tuesday. Investigators believe he was killed before 10 p.m., when the eight-story garage closes.

The Nagasaki police have so far found several pairs of footprints and tire marks, possibly including those of the perpetrator, the sources said.

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