National / Crime & Legal

Blood, skin traces on Osaka slaying suspect's clothes appear to match victim's DNA


The clothes of the man charged with the murder in August of a 13-year-old girl in Osaka Prefecture had traces of blood and pieces of skin that appear to match the victim’s DNA, investigators have said.

The suspect, Koji Yamada, 45, told police that he offered the victim, Natsumi Hirata, of Neyagawa, Osaka Prefecture, a ride in his car but claimed that another occupant of the vehicle beat the girl and dumped her body. Since that admission, Yamada has remained silent.

Osaka Prefectural Police investigators at Takatsuki Police Station have seized the sweat suit Yamada was believed to have worn on Aug. 13, when Hirata was murdered.

While the clothes bore no visible bloodstains, a detailed analysis has shown that traces of blood and pieces of skin were on them, the police said. A DNA test indicates the traces match Hirata’s DNA, they added.

Hirata’s body was found in a parking lot in the city of Takatsuki at around 11:30 p.m. on Aug. 13. There were more than 30 lacerations on her body.

The police have also been questioning Yamada in connection with the death of 12-year-old Ryoto Hoshino, who may have been abducted by Yamada along with Hirata.

The boy’s body was found on Aug. 21 after investigators tracked Yamada’s car and searched a mountainous area elsewhere in the prefecture.

The adhesive tape used to bind both the girl and the boy is believed to be the same type that Yamada bought on the day of the pair’s disappearance.

The police have found small traces of blood in Yamada’s van that closely matched Hirata’s.

Hirata and Hoshino, both Neyagawa residents, attended the same junior high school. Security cameras caught them loitering together in a shopping arcade near Neyagawashi Station for several hours until around 5:10 a.m. on Aug. 13.

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