• Kyodo


The seven suspects being held in connection with the confessed beating death of a 16-year-old girl whose decomposing corpse was found July 13 on a mountain in Hiroshima Prefecture may soon face murder charges, police said Sunday.

The suspects, two 16-year-old boys, four 16-year-old girls and Taihei Seto, 21, are being held on an initial charge of dumping a body. Police believe the victim, whose name, like the other minors, has not been released, was beaten in a minivan driven by Seto on the way to Haigamine Peak in Kure and further assaulted until she died and her corpse was left on the mountain on June 28.

The slaying came to light on July 12 when one of the girls, from Higashi Ward in the city of Hiroshima, and her mother went to a local police station, where the girl claimed she carried out the slaying and dumped the body on her own. The victim had been a classmate of hers at a vocational school.

The police said Sunday that the Higashi Ward girl apparently went back to Haigamine Peak some two weeks after the killing to view the corpse, and was so shocked by its state of decomposition that she decided to turn herself in.

Police sources said Saturday that the Higashi Ward girl was allowed to return home with her mother after making the confession on July 12, after the police were unable to find the corpse.

The police had told her to come back in for voluntary questioning on July 13, but the girl hopped an early morning bus in an apparent attempt to flee. The girl’s mother, however, followed the bus by car and phoned the police, who stopped the bus and took the girl off. She was placed under arrest on July 14, a day after police found the body.

Before her attempt to flee, the girl communicated with friends via the popular messaging app Line from home saying she was certain to be arrested after the corpse was found and asked if anyone could help her escape, sources said.

It was previously reported that the victim and the Higashi Ward girl apparently had a financial dispute stemming from an “entertainment business” they were engaged in, the police said, without elaborating. It is believed the two had quarrelled intensely on Line.

Seto and two of the 16-year-old girls have denied any role in the crime or in the victim’s beating, but others under arrest have admitted they struck the victim while riding in the van and claim the victim was still able to walk by the time they got to the mountain. All except Seto have admitted abandoning the corpse.

Some of the youths also had admitted inviting the victim out for a ride late on June 27 but not telling her where they were going.

The police are expected to serve additional warrants in connection with the slaying after they establish a clear picture of what role each suspect played.

Two of the five minors who were arrested on Wednesday are boys, including one who is apparently the boyfriend of the Higashi Ward girl.

Initially, the girl told police that she alone carried out the murder and abandoned the 16-year-old’s corpse, but her confessions have changed following the arrest.

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