Tuesday, April 03, 2007

Lindsay Ann Hawker Update

Update 9: [Tuesday April 3rd] The news last night showed security camera footage of Hawker and Ichihashi (pictured left) in a coffee shop the morning that she disappeared. It is suspected that she went to his apartment by taxi shortly thereafter. Note: this photo is from about three years ago--a more recent one might be helpful.

She was apparently scheduled to teach her first lesson at NOVA at 10:50am that morning, so there is some speculation going on as to why she would hop in a taxi to travel the three minutes to his apartment only half an hour before work.

The police still have not commented on whether or not Hawker was sexually assaulted by the suspect. There also seems to be sustained effort by police to cover their own backs because the suspect slipped out from under their noses. This morning's edition of the Japan Times provides some new information about how he was able to get away:

Police found Hawker's body the following day buried in a sand-filled bathtub on
the balcony of the Ichikawa condominium. Ichihashi escaped during a subsequent
chase, losing his shoes in the process. Officers were questioning his neighbors
when he bolted.

Why were officers questioning neighbors before they were finished questioning the suspect? The actual number of officers on the scene is difficult to pin down (the number is routinely reported as several, with most reports saying between five and nine officers were sent), but it is obvious that Ichihashi was a major suspect. Japanese police are generally allowed by the courts to do whatever they want in an investigation, so it is mind-boggling to hear that they tried to gather incriminating evidence through Ichihashi's neighbors rather than set about searching his house immediately. By stating that they were busy questioning other people when he ran away, they have simply dug a bigger hole for themselves.

At the very least they should have apprehended him on the spot as a 'person of interest'. Officers in Japan are granted phenomenal amounts of leeway when it comes to detaining and/or questioning suspects.

This case seems to be another example of a botched investigation on the part of police. If the suspect is not caught soon, then we should start to hear some serious howling about how things were not done correctly from the beginning (the initial news conference last week was actually delayed because Mr. Hawker spent more time than expected asking the police questions. At the time, he said he was satisfied with the investigation. However, this observer suspects that he was just being polite).

Update 11

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