• Kyodo

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Five people arrested in connection with the murder and subsequent torching of a 16-year-old girl in Chiba Prefecture said they attacked the girl to keep her quiet about their shoplifting activities, informed sources said Tuesday.

The charred body of Yuko Ishibashi was found at a cemetery parking lot in Chiba’s Wakaba Ward on the morning of Oct. 1. An autopsy showed she died from head injuries sustained through blows with a heavy object.

The five suspects — four youths aged between 16 and 18 and Ishibashi’s 22-year-old husband, Hironobu — were sent to prosecutors Tuesday on suspicion of damaging a corpse. They were all quoted as confessing to her murder.

According to the sources, the four youths are all graduates of the same junior high school in the ward and were known to hang out together.

One of their favorite haunts was the parking lot where the girl was killed. The teens were also seasoned shoplifters, they added.

The youths were reportedly alarmed when Ishibashi, who was perceived by the youths as a very strong-willed person, threatened to tell police about their shoplifting.

The youths went to her husband, whom they revered as a big brother figure, for advice, the sources said.

In response, Ishibashi’s husband reportedly told the youths, “Yuko’s so impertinent, let’s kill her.”

Hironobu Ishibashi was quoted as telling police that one of the youths had asked him to take part in the murder.

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