NAGASAKI – A junior high school student who admitted abducting and murdering a 4-year-old boy in Nagasaki last week said he chose his victim at random, investigative sources said Thursday.
The suspect, who under the Penal Code cannot be held criminally responsible because he is only 12 years old, was taken into custody Wednesday and transferred Thursday afternoon to the Nagasaki Family Court after his case was sent there from a child welfare center.
Shun Tanemoto is believed to have been pushed off the roof of an eight-floor parking garage on the night of July 1 after disappearing from an electronics store about 4 km away where he had gone with his parents. Tanemoto’s naked, battered body was found in a pool of blood at around 9:45 a.m. the following day next to the parking structure.
According to sources, the suspect told police he had never seen the victim before. He reportedly said he just happened to call out to Tanemoto at the electronics store and the boy came up to him willingly.
Police added they have received reports of people hearing a child screaming near the parking garage at around 9:15 p.m., the time the boy is believed to have been killed. The suspect reportedly confirmed this time.
They also revealed Thursday that Tanemoto’s body bore injuries that were probably sustained while he was still alive.
Because footage from security cameras along a shopping arcade near the parking garage taken at around 8 p.m. show Tanemoto walking hand in hand with the suspect with no indication of resistance, police said they believe the student murdered him when he resisted being stripped naked. His clothes were found near his body.
The student told police he had taken Tanemoto with the idea of molesting him. Police believe the boy may have screamed while he struggled with the student or when he was pushed to his death.
Should the family court decide to have the youth kept under observation and protection, he will be sent to a juvenile institution for up to four weeks.
Investigators think the suspect may have been involved in other recent crimes targeting small children, because of similarities in the incidents. Two young boys were molested and another young boy was assaulted in April at a commercial complex about 1 km from the electronics store, according to police.
Net as gossip central
Users of a Web site have posted a number of names purported to be those of the 12-year-old boy who allegedly abducted and killed Shun Tanemoto, 4, in Nagasaki Prefecture, Justice Ministry and prefectural officials said Thursday.
Some of the posts also indicated the name of the suspect’s junior high school.
Citing human rights concerns, the ministry’s civil liberties bureau and the Nagasaki prefectural education board separately ordered the site’s operator to delete around 40 messages.
The Internet bulletin board carried more than 10,000 messages about the murder on Wednesday alone.
Some messages requested personal information about the 12-year-old, including photographs, and some users responded by posting names they said were the suspect’s.
“It constitutes human rights abuse to post someone’s name as if it were the suspect’s name,” an education board official said.
Both authorities said they do not know the boy’s name. Police brought the boy to a child welfare center Wednesday so it could take over the case in line with the Child Welfare Law, and the center sent him to the Family Court in Nagasaki on Thursday.