OSAKA – Police acting on a tip from a child welfare center arrested a man and a woman from Osaka’s Higashisumiyoshi Ward after they allegedly placed the dead body of the woman’s 1-year-old son inside a cooler in a car trunk.
Osaka Prefectural Police said they arrested Rena Suzuki, 24, and Yuta Oshima, 22, who lives with Suzuki, Tuesday on initial suspicion of abandoning the body of Suzuki’s son, Ryusei.
The toddler was found the same day in Suzuki’s car, which was parked in a lot in Osaka’s Sumiyoshi Ward. The two were sent to prosecutors Thursday.
The boy is believed to have died more than two months ago, and an autopsy indicated he starved to death. The police are investigating the case as possible fatal child neglect.
The boy was found wrapped in a towel, wearing a white T-shirt, a diaper and shorts, according to the police. Investigators found bottles of deodorants and ice packs in the cooler, in the trunk, and they believe the couple placed them there to delay the discovery of the body.
The couple have reportedly confessed. According to investigators, Suzuki told the police that they left the boy in a car temporarily in April, found him dead when they returned and put the body in the trunk out of fear they would be arrested for child abuse. Oshima also said they hid the body because they could not say they abandoned the boy.
A child consultation center reported to the police Tuesday that the boy was missing after visiting his home 28 times since Nov. 11 and failing to confirm his whereabouts. Investigators found Suzuki’s car, questioned the couple, who were staying at a nearby hotel, and arrested them.
According to the center and the police, the couple moved to Osaka from Wakayama Prefecture in August. An official at the center visited their home earlier this month because Ryusei had not taken the regular health checkup for 18-month-old children and they had received reports of possible abuse of his 3-year-old sister.
Suzuki reportedly told the center official that Ryusei was staying at her mother’s house, but her mother said she hadn’t seen the boy since March 22.
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