• Kyodo


The body of a girl found in a parking lot in Osaka Prefecture last week was confirmed Tuesday to be that of a 13-year-old who went missing with a boy from her school a day earlier, police said.

Natsumi Hirata, a first-year junior high school student from Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, was found dead Thursday night in the parking lot of a distribution company in the nearby city of Takatsuki, her face wrapped in adhesive tape.

Her identity was confirmed based on fingerprints and other details.

The police are trying to determine where she and Ryoto Hoshino, a 12-year-old classmate, went after he left his house Wednesday night, saying the two would be spending time together.

The boy remains missing.

The girl was last seen alive by her sister at their home at around 6 p.m. Wednesday. The parents of both children reported their disappearance to the police on Friday.

Hirata’s body was found in the parking lot by a driver working for the distribution company at around 11:30 p.m. Thursday. An autopsy shows she died of suffocation at around 7 p.m. that day, according to the police.

She was found face down with her hands tied behind her back and her face almost entirely wrapped in adhesive tape.

There were more than 30 cuts or stab wounds mainly to the left side of her body, some penetrating to the bone, as well as bruises to her face and head. Marks around her neck indicated she may have been strangled by hand.

The police suspect Hirata was killed elsewhere and taken to the parking lot because little blood was found around her body.

A nearby security camera captured video footage showing two vehicles stopping in the parking lot for about half an hour shortly before the body was found.

When they disappeared, Hirata was wearing a white shirt and denim shorts.

Hoshino was wearing a black T-shirt and half pants. He is about 140 cm tall.

According to a friend, Hirata said on a messaging app in the early hours of Thursday that she was thinking of sleeping outside, but afterward she became unreachable.

Hoshino’s bicycle was found Saturday near Keihan Electric Railway’s Neyagawashi Station, but neither child showed up on nearby security cameras, the police said.

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