• Kyodo, Staff Report


Police on Friday night arrested a 45-year-old man in Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, in connection with the murder of a junior high school girl whose body was found in Takatsuki in the prefecture, last week.

They also found the body of her male schoolmate, who is believed to have been with the girl when she went missing.

The arrest of Koji Yamada came just hours after police issued a warrant for the man over his suspected connection to the murder of Natsumi Hirata, 13. The body of Ryoto Hoshino, 12, was found in Kashiwara in the prefecture, police said. They allege Yamada is involved in abandoning Hoshino’s body.

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. An autopsy shows she died of suffocation at around 7 p.m. that day, according to police.

Hirata’s body was found by a driver working for the distribution company at around 11:30 p.m.

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.

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