Friday, April 06, 2007

Lindsay Ann Hawker's Death: Police Mistakes and Suspect Escapes


Update 11: [Friday April 6th] Not much in the print news yesterday (Thursday April 5th), but there were a couple of articles this morning. Police are now saying that prime murder suspect, Tatsuya Ichihashi, may have fled from the area near Gyotoku station by bicycle [Mainichi]. It was earlier thought that he had taken off in a taxi.

The face masks that are routinely donned during hay fever season, and the umbrellas on rainy days, are probably making it possible for Ichihashi to move around quite easily right now. It is not suspected that he is still in the area near the apartment. Most educated guesses put him in Tokyo. In other words, he will not be found unless he makes a very big mistake (i.e. needle in a haystack).

The Japan Times ran an interesting article this morning in which they interviewed the head of the Gyotoku police station (which has jurisdiction in this case), and a couple of retired detectives. Echoing the criticisms logged on this site in Update: 9, they agreed that the police regarded Tatsuya Ichihashi as a major person of interest when they went to his apartment building. Therefore, police statements that they had no idea they would find a dead body in the apartment, or that this wasn't anything more than a routine missing persons case, don't really sound convincing.

Akio Kuroki, a retired Tokyo police detective, said, "There is absolutely no way that nine well-placed (officers) would fail to catch one guy. There are huge contradictions in the police explanation."

Police continue to be protective of the minute details of the case. Exactly what transpired between police and Tatsuya Ichihashi after he answered the door, exactly how Lindsay Ann Hawker was murdered, and whether or not she was sexually assaulted are conspicuous omissions from the information that police are releasing to the public. A London website (thisislondon.co.uk) reported two days ago that Hawker's neck was broken. This had not previously been mentioned in the Japanese press.

It is unclear whether this protection of information is in line with investigative protocol, or if it is intended to hide other obvious police blunders that may have occured.

It could also be argued that police are carefully trying to avoid painting the image of a serial killer. There are several factors in this case that might lead one to believe that this was a well-planned murder, and that the suspect is likely to kill again in the future.

Given the suspect's history of stalking, it is hoped that the Gyotoku police department is reopening other missing-person cases in their area that had been previously abandoned.
Update 12: [Sunday April 15th] Nothing new has come to light in the past week. The dailies have not found any reason to keep printing photos of the prime suspect, Tatsuya Ichihashi. Ichihashi has apparently disappeared without a trace.
Ichihashi's bike was located near the station where he lives, so the theory that he fled by bicycle has obviously been discounted.


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