• Kyodo


A man who died in a November 2009 car crash has been referred to prosecutors over the slaying of a female university student around the same time, according to police.

The woman’s body was found dismembered in a mountainous area after she went missing in Shimane Prefecture.

Yoshiharu Yano, a 33-year-old company employee in Masuda, Shimane Prefecture, is suspected of strangling 19-year-old Miyako Hiraoka before dismembering her body and abandoning it in a mountainous area of neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture, the police said.

They discovered 57 images on a digital camera and other devices showing, among other things, what appeared to be Hiraoka’s corpse and a kitchen knife. Based on the images, they determined that she had been strangled to death.

According to investigative sources, the photos included one taken in the bath of Yano’s home, where police believe Hiraoka was dismembered.

With Tuesday’s move, the investigation that went on for seven years amid a lack of credible witness reports or evidence will be concluded. Progress was quick once Yano emerged as a suspect earlier this year.

At the time of the slaying, Yano lived in Masuda, a city adjacent to Hiraoka’s residence of Hamada.

The police have learned that around the time of the slaying, Yano drove in the area where Hiraoka’s body was discovered, telling an acquaintance that he had done something terrible, according to sources.

The police believe Yano and Hiraoka were not acquainted.

Hiraoka, who was a first-year student at Shimane University, went missing in the coastal city 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 Hiroshima.

Yano died after his car crashed on the Chugoku Expressway in Yamaguchi Prefecture on Nov. 8, two days after Hiraoka’s head was found. The car caught fire in the crash, which also killed Yano’s mother.

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