• Kyodo, Staff Report


A 9-year-old Vietnamese girl whose body was found near a drainage ditch in Chiba Prefecture on Sunday appears to have been murdered sometime between Friday morning and Saturday night, investigators said Tuesday.

Police believe Le Thi Nhat Linh was strangled at an unknown location and then dumped at the spot in Abiko where her body was found early Sunday morning, an investigative source said.

Separately, NHK reported Tuesday that a classmate heard from Linh last month that she saw a suspicious person on the way to school in January and that she felt scared. Since then, Linh hurried through the area where the person had appeared whenever she went to school, NHK quoted the classmate as saying.

Linh’s body was found at about 6:45 a.m. Sunday in a state of rigor mortis, meaning a certain amount of time had passed since she was killed. In the grassy field where her body was found, there were no signs of a struggle, leading police to believe that the killing took place elsewhere, the investigative source said.

Sources also said Linh might have been kidnapped on Friday within a few minutes of leaving her home in the nearby city of Matsudo, as footage from security cameras in the area did not show her on the day she vanished. She left for school — which is about 600 meters from her home — at around 8 a.m. but never arrived.

Linh’s school, Mutsumi Daini Elementary School in Matsudo, will consider introducing safety measures from April, such as having students form groups when walking to and from school, the principal said Monday.

The school has also provided a counselor for students.

“(Linh) liked to chat and was cooperative with school duties like serving school lunch,” said Makoto Furusho, the principal. “It is mortifying to see this happen. I hope the case will be resolved as soon as possible so children can live with peace of mind.”

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