• Kyodo

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In the brutal murder of a 13-year-old boy on the banks of the Tama River in Kawasaki, the victim, Ryoto Uemura, joined the three teenage suspects on the night of the slaying without knowing the group included the 18-year-old boy he was afraid of and who allegedly played the leading role in the killing, investigative sources said Tuesday.

According to the sources, one of the two 17-year-old boys among the three, all under arrest and whose names have been withheld because they are minors, said he didn’t tell Uemura that the oldest boy was present when Uemura contacted him shortly before they met via the Line online smartphone service.

Uemura, who had been severely assaulted by the 18-year-old in mid-January and was afraid of him, might not have joined the group and probably would have avoided being killed had he known the suspect was present, the sources said.

“I can’t stop my tears when I think about how frightened he was and the pain he suffered,” Uemura’s mother said in a statement issued Monday.

Uemura’s body was found early on the morning of Feb. 20. According to the account by one of the 17-year-old boys, who was apparently on friendly terms with the victim, he received a Line message from Uemura saying, “Let me join you,” in the afternoon of the previous day.

The other two were present when the message was received, and the 17-year-old simply thought it “would be fun to have one more friend” along and told the 18-year-oldSof the message, to which the oldest boy said, “Why not? Let him come,” according to the account.

Because the 18-year-old has admitted killing Uemura and reportedly said “I did it because he told on me,” meaning he informed others that the 18-year-old had beat him up in January, it is suspected that the older youth bore a grudge against the victim, the sources said.

The sources said the police have yet to piece together the whole picture of the murder as the three suspects have given conflicting testimony. They also think it is possible the boys planned the murder.

A separate source said Monday that Uemura suffered a horizontal cut across his throat, likely done with an industrial box cutter.

The oldest suspect said one of the two others had a box cutter and that all three inflicted cuts on Uemura, according to the police.

The source said it is almost certain that the weapon involved was an industrial box cutter, matching a broken cutter blade found near Uemura’s body. Uemura may have been face-up when his throat was slit, the source said. He also had severe cuts on the back of his neck.

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