• Kyodo


A 13-year-old girl found dead in an Osaka Prefecture parking lot bound with duct tape, and her male classmate who remains missing, wandered the streets through the night less than a day before her death, investigative sources said Wednesday.

Natsumi Hirata, a first-year junior high school student from Neyagawa, Osaka, was found dead on the night of Aug. 13 in the parking lot of a distribution company in the nearby city of Takatsuki, with her face wrapped in adhesive tape and with stab wounds all over her body. An autopsy shows she died of suffocation at around 7 p.m. that day, according to police.

Hirata’s relatives and classmates have said the girl would often leave home for a couple of days or spend the night near the station.

Investigators discovered that after they went out on the night of Aug. 12, the pair asked to stay over at a friend’s house but the request was declined. Police believe the two wandered the streets through the night and were attacked.

Using the Line messaging app, Hirata asked the friend to put the two up for the night. The friend refused, citing family reasons. Footage from security cameras near Keihan Neyagawashi Station showed the two walking back and forth on shopping streets near the station between 1 a.m. and 5 a.m. on Aug. 13. Hirata was found dead at around 11:30 p.m. the same day.

They also parked their bicycles in front of Neyagawashi Station roughly four hours before her death, the sources added.

Investigators have found from pay-parking-lot data that a bike owned by her classmate 12-year-old Ryoto Hoshino was parked in front of the station at around 3 p.m. the same day. They believe Hirata parked her bike there at the same time.

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