Police found a body Sunday buried under a house in Adachi Ward, Tokyo, after a man walked into a police station and said he killed a female teacher 26 years ago.
The 68-year-old man said he murdered the woman in 1978 and buried her at his former home, police said.
The body is believed to be that of Chikako Ishikawa, an elementary school teacher, they said.
It had been suspected that she was abducted by North Korea.
Police plan to turn over their case on the man to prosecutors on suspicion of murder and abandonment of a corpse, even though the statute of limitations has expired.
The man turned himself in at Ayase Police Station early Saturday and reportedly said, “I killed a female teacher in August 1978, who worked at an elementary school in Adachi Ward, and I hid her body at my former house in the ward.”
The man, a security guard at the school back then, told officers he got into a quarrel with Ishikawa and ended up smothering her by covering her mouth with his hand.
The body was wrapped in a sheet and buried about 1 meter deep, the police said.
The man, who had moved from Tokyo to Chiba Prefecture, said he decided to turn himself in as he was afraid the body would be found because his former house is scheduled to be torn down.
Ishikawa went missing two days after an educational trip to Europe. Her family immediately asked police to search for her.
The family filed the request again in October 2002, citing the possibility she had been kidnapped by North Korean agents. In September 2003, Ishikawa was listed by an activist group as a possible abductee.
A sister-in-law of Ishikawa who lives in Otaru, Hokkaido, said her family received the information from the Metropolitan Police Department on Sunday. She said her husband told her he would go to Tokyo about the matter.
“I can’t say much until it’s confirmed,” she said.
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