Japanese police struggle to find Lindsay's killer
Richard Lloyd Parry
Four days after the murder of Lindsay Hawker, the British teacher found strangled in a Tokyo suburb, Japanese police raided a suburban sex motel yesterday in a vain search for the Japanese man suspected of killing her.
A team of twenty officers took up positions around the Hotel Chateau, a “love hotel” in Nishi-Funabashi, east of Tokyo, where rooms are rented to couples by the hour. They were following up a reported sighting of Tatsuya Ichihashi, a 28-year old doctor’s son in whose home Lindsay’s body was found buried in an earth-filled bath. After a 45 minutes search of the premises, broadcast on Japanese television, they emerged frustrated, seemingly no closer to finding their quarry than when he escaped from under their noses on Monday night.
A few hours earlier, Lindsay’s father, Bill Hawker, viewed his daughter’s body for the first time, and formally took possession of her body after the conclusion of the official autopsy. This concluded that she suffered death after pressure on her neck which broke the cartilage.
Lindsay’s body was found by police in Mr Ichihashi’s apartment in Ichikawa, east of Tokyo, soon after he broke away from police officers questioning him about her disappearance the day before. He escaped from a team of nine policemen, barefoot, and despite a nationwide campaign, not a sign of him has been seen since.
He approached Lindsay at a railway station as she was travelling home late at night last week, and followed her home, eventually persuading her to give him a private English lesson at his apartment last Sunday. On Momday night police found her body. Her hands and ankles had been tied with plastic cord used to bind plants, and she was buried in horticultural soil.
Egg-sized bruises on the left side of her face appear to have been inflicted with a fist, while lesser marks on her upper body were the result of collision with furniture, probably during a struggle, police said. But they refused to confirm or deny whether there were signs of sexual assault.
Detectives at Gyotoku police Station in the city of Ichikawa, where the 100 strong investigation team is based, made no public announcement of new leads, despite the widespread coverage of the case, and repeated broadcasting of Mr Ichihashi’s face on Japanese television.
Linday’s Australian and Canadian flat mates reported her missing on Monday afternoon and the police called on Mr Ichihashi that night after finding his name and telephone number on a piece of paper in her apartment. After he had fled as they were questioning him, they found a backpack containing two days’ underwear and the suspect’s shoes.
His socks had been cast aside a few hundred metres from his home. Police dogs lost his scent soon after, suggesting that he had escaped in a car or on a motorbike. Yesterday detectives removed from Mr Ichihashi’s apartment building a shopping trolley in which he is believed to have transported the bags of horticultural soil in which Lindsay was buried.
Students at the Nova language school in the Tokyo suburb of Koiwa, where Lindsay was a teacher, expressed shock at the news. “I called her Lindsay-san and she called me by my name,” said a 6-year old girl named Sae, who took part in a children’s class taught by Ms Hawker. “I liked her very much. The lessons were very interesting and she was always laughing.”