• Kyodo


A man already detained in connection with the March slaying of a 9-year-old Vietnamese girl in Chiba Prefecture will be served a new warrant on Friday charging him with murder, according to investigative sources.

Yasumasa Shibuya, 46, was arrested last month on suspicion of abandoning the body of Le Thi Nhat Linh in Abiko, Chiba, after she disappeared on her way to school in Matsudo, also in the prefecture, on the morning of March 24. Shibuya was the head of a parents’ association at Linh’s elementary school.

The sources said the murder charge is based on a DNA sample linked to Shibuya taken from Linh’s body, as well as DNA taken from one of her hairs discovered in the back seat of Shibuya’s car.

Shibuya, suspected of acting alone, continues to refuse to speak to investigators about the case during questioning, the sources added.

Linh is believed to have been choked to death based on marks found on her neck. Investigators are analyzing several kinds of rope seized at Shibuya’s home and elsewhere to see if any match the type allegedly used in the murder.

Friday is the last day Shibuya can be held in court-mandated detention without indicting him on the alleged abandonment of Linh’s body, the initial charge made against him when he was arrested on April 14.

Linh, a third-grader, disappeared shortly after leaving her home on foot for her school about 600 meters away on March 24. Two days later, her body was found near a drainage ditch in Abiko. Police suspect she was abducted shortly after leaving home as no eyewitnesses came forward to say they saw her walking.

Shibuya lives only about 300 meters away from Linh’s home.

The sources said earlier that security cameras had caught Shibuya’s vehicle driving near the Linh’s home, near where her body was found and near where her belongings — such as her school bag and clothes — were discovered between the morning of March 24 and the pre-dawn hours the following day.

The arrest of Shibuya, who told police he runs a real estate business, has shaken the local community. In addition to his role in the parents’ association, he had also volunteered as a crossing guard tasked with ensuring children get to school safely.

Linh’s parents, Le Anh Hao and his wife, returned to Japan on Sunday after traveling to Vietnam for the second time in a month for a religious service for their daughter. This time, they are expected to stay in Japan for an extended period of time and are reportedly willing to attend court hearings if the case goes to trial.

The parents returned to Vietnam for their daughter’s funeral between April 2 and April 16.

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