• Staff Report, Kyodo


Two people seen on security video near where a 13-year-old boy was found dead on a river bank in Kawasaki are about the same age as the victim, NHK said Monday, citing police analysis of the images.

The unclothed body of Ryota Uemura was found Friday morning on a bank of the Tama River. He apparently bled to death after being slashed with a sharp object or objects.

The area is mixed industrial and residential. Uemura’s body was found a few hundred meters from Minatocho Station on the Keikyu Daishi Line, and about 2 km from the residential area where he lived.

Uemura was a first-year student at a junior high school in the area. Investigators believe his friends and acquaintances may be involved in his slaying, NHK quoted officers as saying.

Footage recorded by a security camera shortly before Uemura’s estimated time of death shows three people passing by, NHK said. One resembles the victim, and all appear to be teenagers.

Two of the individuals later walked back in the direction from which they came. The police believe the individual missing at that point is Uemura.

Since the two appear to be about the same age as the slain boy, the victim may have been involved in trouble at school, the investigators were quoted as saying.

In another lead, investigators from Kawasaki Police Station found a disposable box-cutter blade with blood stains on it on the river bank near where Uemura was found.

The broken blade was lying on a patch of ground covered with a large amount of blood, they said, while there was little blood in the area where the body lay. They have yet to determine whether the blade was used in the murder.

Uemura is believed to have died from hemorrhagic shock resulting from wounds to his neck, which were made at the side and at the back by repeated slashing and stabbing motions. The weapon was sharp. The boy also had wounds to his face and arms.

The police also suspect he his legs and arms may have been bound as they found severed zip ties near his body.

Meanwhile, the police said Monday they have identified a burned sole of a shoe among charred clothes that the victim may have been wearing.

On Saturday they reported that burned clothing had been found in a public toilet in a nearby park when firefighters responded to a report of a small fire about an hour after Uemura’s estimated time of death.

The bathroom is located about 700 meters from the crime scene.

The police have not confirmed that the clothes or the shoe belonged to Uemura, but they suspect his killer or killers may have burned them in an attempt to erase the body’s identity.

The police put up notices on the river bank and in the area Monday asking for witnesses to come forward.

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