A 28-year-old woman found dead with her 3-year-old son in an apartment in Osaka's Kita Ward last Friday, apparently of starvation, may have been the victim of domestic violence, investigative sources said Tuesday, noting her family had contacted police about the alleged abuse.

Mitsuyo Inoue may have secretly moved to the apartment with her son, Rui, sometime around last October to escape from her husband and then, for unknown reasons, apparently failed to contact anyone for help, police said, adding the two apparently starved to death around February in the flat, whose utilities were cut off and which lacked food or a refrigerator.

According to police, Inoue lived in the city of Moriguchi, next to Osaka, with her husband and son until around last October. She never registered as a resident of Osaka after moving. In the apartment, investigators found unfiled divorce papers signed by Inoue and her husband.

Around early October, before Inoue moved out, Inoue's mother contacted police, saying she was worried for her daughter's life. A police officer made a follow-up visit to Inoue at her Moriguchi home, but she offered no details and the officer didn't notice signs of domestic violence, sources said.