National / Crime & Legal

Abductor likely targeted Saitama girl in advance: police


The man suspected of abducting a female teenager who recently escaped two years of captivity might have collected information on her beforehand because he called her by her full name when they first met, police said Tuesday.

The teenager, now 15, fled her captor’s apartment in Tokyo’s Nakano Ward on Sunday and was rescued by the police.

She told the police that the suspect, 23-year-old Kabu Terauchi, called her by her full name when she was returning home from school in Asaka, Saitama Prefecture, on March 10, 2014, and did not know Terauchi at that time.

The teen was quoted as saying she had been locked in Terauchi’s apartment in the city of Chiba until they moved to Tokyo last month.

Investigators inspected the Chiba apartment Tuesday and suspect Terauchi made modifications to the main door to prevent her from escaping.

Terauchi recently graduated from the engineering department of Chiba University.

Meanwhile, the sources quoted the girl as saying they moved into the apartment in Nakano Ward where she is suspected of having been imprisoned last month. The dwelling is near Higashi-Nakano Station.

The girl escaped Sunday after Terauchi went out. She called police at around 12:30 p.m. from a pay phone at the station, using ¥170 that had been left in the apartment.

At a news conference on Monday, her father, 46, recounted being reunited with his daughter Sunday night at a hospital where she was recuperating.

“I believed she would definitely come back. This day has finally come,” he said, speaking to the media who gathered in Asaka, where the then-junior high school student was abducted.

The father said his daughter, who was in a wheelchair when he saw her at the hospital, waved when she saw him.

“You hung in there. Welcome back!” he told his daughter while holding her hands.

He said she had grown about 5 cm taller during her abduction.

Regarding their first conversation together after two years, the father said he felt she sounded more mature.

After she vanished in March 2014, her parents tried to gather information by handing out flyers on the street in cooperation with the Saitama Prefectural Police, officials from Asaka, and a group of supporters.

The daughter was quoted as saying by her father that she was aware of their activities via the Internet, telling her father she knew they had been handing out flyers.

“I believe our activities gave her the courage” to break free from Terauchi, the father told reporters.

When asked about Terauchi, who was hospitalized for injuries incurred during a possible suicide attempt, the father answered succinctly:  “I haven’t had a spare moment to think about him,” he said.

The junior high school student was last seen speaking with a young man in front of her home in Asaka on March 10, 2014.

On the same day, a note was found in the letter box at her home written in what appeared to be her handwriting, saying, “Don’t look for me.” A letter with her name on was also delivered to her home about a week later, which said, “I’m doing fine. I’m sorry for causing trouble. I can’t return for some time.”

Around that time, the police began seeking more information from the public by releasing girl’s name and photo.

After she was taken into protective custody, the girl told investigators that “a man forced me to write” the note and the letter. Police are thinking that Terauchi might have tried to make the girl’s disappearance look like she ran away from home so that he could confine her, the sources said.

On Monday, Chiba University executive Makoto Watanabe said the university is considering retracting Terauchi’s diploma.

He graduated from the university just last Wednesday.