• Kyodo


Five males, including a high school student, confessed Monday to killing a 16-year-old girl and were arrested for allegedly torching the victim’s body.

The burned body of Yuko Ishibashi was found in a cemetery parking lot in the city of Chiba on Oct. 1.

Police allege that Hironobu Ishibashi, 22, and four boys ranging in age from 16 to 18 burned the body.

Hironobu Ishibashi acquired the victim’s last name after registering his marriage with her in July. Investigators said they suspect Hironobu registered his apparently bogus marriage with Ishibashi so he could borrow money from consumer credit companies under a new name.

After the four boys admitted to the murder on Monday, Hironobu maintained his innocence, though he later admitted to taking part.

The five said they burned the body because they wanted to make it unidentifiable.

An autopsy determined the victim suffered severe head wounds from a fatal beating before her corpse was torched. Police suspect stones weighing as much as 70 kg were used in the attack.

According to an investigation, the five doused the girl’s body with lighter fluid at the parking lot in the predawn hours of last Wednesday and then set it alight. The charred corpse was found at around 7 a.m.

Ishibashi was working part-time at a bar after she quit high school last October.

Hironobu contacted police on the evening of that day, claiming he thought the deceased may be his wife. He was quoted as telling investigators that he picked the girl up in his car after she finished work and dropped her off near her parents’ home at around 3:20 a.m.

He added that, immediately after dropping her off, he received a call from her on his cellular phone, but that the call was cut off. He got no answer when he tried to call her back and went to bed, he reportedly told police.

But police determined from video footage taken by security cameras that he and the youths had bought a large amount of lighter fluid from a late-night supermarket shortly after 4 a.m. on Oct. 1. He had told investigators that he was asleep at that time.

Police are trying to establish a motive for the crime.

By law, parental consent is required for a minor to marry. Investigators said they suspect Hironobu falsified documents to make it appear that Ishibashi’s parents had agreed to the marriage.

In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.