• Kyodo

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A man who died in a car crash in Yamaguchi Prefecture in late 2009 is suspected of having killed a female university student found dismembered on a mountain two days earlier after going missing in neighboring Shimane Prefecture, investigative sources have revealed.

The belief that the man, a company employee in his 30s, may have murdered Miyako Hiraoka, a first-year student at a public university in Shimane is partially based on a digital photo found on a camera that apparently captured images of the victim after her disappearance, the sources said Saturday.

Police combed through the man’s belongings after suspicions grew this year that he was involved in the woman’s death, the sources said. The photo images were eventually found at a location related to him.

Police plan to file a case with prosecutors on Tuesday, they added.

Hiraoka went missing in the coastal city of Hamada in Shimane on Oct. 26, 2009, after she left the restaurant where she was working part-time. In early November that year, parts of her body were found near a mountain top in neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture.

An autopsy showed she had been beaten in the face and likely strangled. They also showed her torso had been slashed and burned after she had died.

The man was killed in a car crash on the Chugoku Expressway in Yamaguchi on Nov. 8, two days after Hiraoka’s head was found. The car caught fire in the crash, also killing his mother.

The man was originally from Shimonoseki, Yamaguchi Prefecture. At the time of the woman’s disappearance, he lived in the Shimane city of Masuda, adjacent to Hamada. The police believe they were not acquaintances.

This past summer, investigators were seen asking around Shimonoseki about whether a particular type of plastic bag had been used in the area. The police had earlier recovered a plastic bag fragment from the victim’s body and determined that the same type of plastic bag had been used to distribute phone books.

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