• Kyodo, Staff Report


Adhesive tape wrapped around parts of the bodies of two Osaka youths who were murdered earlier this month and found at different locations likely came from the same roll, investigators said Sunday.

They also said the stomach of one of the victims, a 13-year-old girl, contained little, indicating she had been held without eating for several hours before she died. It was unclear when the other victim, a 12-year-old boy, last ate because his body had already begun to decay.

Earlier in the day, police sent to prosecutors a man arrested for allegedly dumping the body of the girl in Osaka on Aug. 13. The girl was found with over 30 lacerations and adhesive tape wrapped around her head.

Police also raided a lodging house in Nihonmatsu, Fukushima Prefecture, where the suspect, Koji Yamada, 45, had stayed until recently while he worked as part of the Fukushima clean-up effort in the aftermath of the March 2011 nuclear disaster.

Investigative sources said Yamada has denied the charge of abandoning the body of the girl, Natsumi Hirata, in a parking lot in Takatsuki, Osaka Prefecture, on the night of Aug. 13.

“Even though I spoke to her and took her into my car, it was a male passenger who beat her in the back seat, and the girl was dead before we knew it,” investigators quoted Yamada as saying.

But police believe Yamada — a resident of Neyagawa, Osaka, and a nuclear radiation decontamination worker in Fukushima Prefecture until recently — may have acted alone because security cameras showed him visiting several places by himself on the day the girl was murdered and her body was found.

Media reports said Sunday that Yamada purportedly told an acquaintance after Hirata’s body was found that he had done something terrible.

Police on Friday also found the body of 12-year-old Ryoto Hoshino, who was with Hirata the day they both disappeared, in a mountainous area in Kashiwara where Yamada drove earlier that day. The body had been covered with grass in an attempt to conceal it and Hoshino’s head was also wrapped in adhesive tape, according to investigative sources.

An autopsy determined the girl died of suffocation around 7 p.m. on Aug. 13. Police said an autopsy on the boy indicated he also died sometime around the same day.

Both children attended the same junior high school in Neyagawa and were last seen alive, via security camera footage, loitering together for hours in the early hours of Aug. 13 in the concourse of a local shopping arcade.

Police are continuing their investigations into the deaths of the teens.

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