The latest news on the murder of NOVA teacher Lindsay Ann Hawker

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    New information on the case of Lindsay Ann Hawker, a 22-year-old British woman who was recently found murdered in Japan, has emerged since yesterday’s post on this topic:

    • Hawker graduated in biology from the University of Leeds last year and started teaching for Nova in October 2006.
    • Ichihashi, who is suspected of being involved in Ms Hawker’s murder, “escaped from the scene despite the presence of several police officers.”
    • NOVA has denied media reports that Ichikawa was a student at their schools who had been dating Ms Hawker.
    • Several assault wounds to the face and arms have been found on her body, but exact cause of death has not been determined.
    • Neighbors hurt sounds of striking metal and something being dragged on late Sunday/ early Monday.
    • In a March 20 message to her boyfriend on the social networking site Facebook, Ms Hawker wrote: ”Love u lots dont worry abt the gut (guy) who chased me home, its jus crazy Japan. miss u xxx.” [Full article here]

    A few photos:

    Lindsay Ann Hawker
    The bathtub in which Ms Hawker’s body was found
    Ichihashi, the primary suspect in this case

    Update: In the following news clip, a foreigner tells the Japanese press that a strange man had run after Lindsay as she was biking several days before, asking for her phone number. She had refused, but he gave her his phone number instead. The foreigner seems to be suggesting that the man was Ichihashi. This could be the same incident mentioned in the British newspaper article’s investigation of her Facebook message postings:

    Update 2: Ms Hawker’s father and boyfriend have arrived in Japan and given emotional statements before the Japanese media, calling on the police to arrest the criminal responsible:

    “My daughter didn’t come here to be murdered. She came here to help people, she came here to teach,” Hawker’s father, William, told reporters in Chiba, near Ichikawa, wiping away tears with a handkerchief.

    “I will not rest till the man who killed my daughter is caught,” he said, appealing to the Japanese public to come forward with any information that might aid the investigation.

    The dead Briton’s father, who spoke with police after arriving in Japan early Wednesday, was accompanied by Hawker’s boyfriend, Ryan Garside.

    “She was the best thing in my life,” a distraught Garside said at the press conference, adding he had planned to ask Hawker to marry him.

    -It has also been reported by the Japanese media that her cause of death was suffocation. I haven’t seen any English language articles about this yet, but this Japanese article has the information.

    -More on the chasing while biking: some in the Japanese media are reporting that a man said “Do you remember me?” to Lindsay and chased after her as she biked, asking her to teach him English. It is unclear whether the man was Ichihashi.

    Update 3: A few new details on the case have emerged since this morning’s update.

    An account of Ichihashi’s escape, from Mainichi:

    Officers visited Ichihashi’s apartment in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, at about 9:40 p.m. on Monday, just as the 28-year-old was preparing to walk out the door. One of the officers accosted him, asking “Are you Mr. Ichihashi?”

    Ichihashi answered affirmatively but escaped down the apartment’s emergency stairway and fled in the direction of Gyotoku Station. The fugitive was not wearing shoes.

    His abandoned socks have also been found.

    The media is widely reporting that Ichihashi had indeed chased down Hawker as she biked home several days before the murder, asking her to teach him English and giving her his name and phone number.

    The Asahi Shinbun has added a few more details about her death: she had likely been strangled after her hands and feet had been bound with plastic cords.

    I came across this Japanese language article about press coverage and “bashing Japanese,” which led me to the London Paper’s classy coverage of the murder:

    Today it emerged that Lindsay had already decided to leave Japan because she found the men “creepy”

    Lindsay had posted a message on the Facebook website on March 20 mentioning that a man had followed her home.

    In one posting to Ryan, she wrote: “Love u lots dont worry abt the gut (guy) who chased me home, its jus crazy Japan. miss u xxx.”

    And a friend told The Sun today:’ She found Japanese men weird. Some made inappropriate gestures and sexual remarks.”

    Update 4: Looking for professional journalistic coverage of this crime? Look no further than “Real Time News,” which had this reporter showing viewers what a man chasing after a bicycle would look like:

    Update 5: Japanese police raided a love hotel [or “sex motel” as the British press has termed it] in Nishi-Funabashi yesterday following a report that someone fitting Ichihashi’s description had been there, but did not find him. Richard Lloyd Parry of time Times has also reported a link between violent manga and the crime:

    There was speculation the murder, echoing violent Manga comics which are extremely popular in Japan, may have been copied from the cartoons.

    Piles of the comics, which feature stories of rape and torture, were found at Ichihachi’s flat.

    Has anyone seen any Japanese media reports that focus on Ichihashi’s manga reading?

    Update 6: Ichihashi hasn’t been caught yet, but a few new details have emerged:

    The above news clip claims that Ichihashi cut Hawker’s hair in his apartment, and that video footage of the two together has been found:

    Video pictures broadcast by Japanese television showed English teacher Lindsay Hawker dressed in white and talking to a man media identified as 28-year-old Tatsuya Ichihashi, whom police are seeking in connection with her death.

    Three members of the cafe’s staff remembered seeing “a very beautiful foreign woman,” broadcaster NTV said. Hawker and Ichihashi were then caught on another camera getting into a taxi, apparently headed for his house nearby, NTV said.

    Hawker is thought to have given Ichihashi an English lesson at the cafe and then agreed to stop off at his apartment before heading for work at a language school, media reports said.

    Meanwhile, the Sun has reported that Ichihashi “bragged of spying on women as they showered and bathed” in his school yearbook.

    Update 7[6:30PM Japan Time April 3, 2007]: The Japanese media is reporting that Ichihashi may have pursued another female foreigner about half a year ago, and that he also drew a portrait and gave it to that woman. Police are investigating the similarities between the two cases as they continue to search for Ichihashi. The press has also released a new photograph of Ichihashi, taken in February of this year, and they are showing it on tonight’s news broadcasts.

    Another note: this story is not being ignored by the Japanese media. It is getting a lot of coverage. Don’t let random internet posters fool you with their claims that the Japanese media is not putting Ichihashi’s photo all over the news. Hopefully the new photograph released tonight will help in the search for him.

    Update 8[1:45PM Japan Time April 4, 2007]: A few pieces of information the English language press has translated from Japanese news reports since the last update:

    This is London reports on the other foreign woman Ichihashi stalked:

    The Japanese man suspected of murdering Lindsay Hawker stalked another British woman teacher last year, scaring her so much she fled the country, it emerged yesterday.

    The young woman left her job in Japan and returned to the UK fearing for her safety after horticultural student Tatsuya Ichihashi followed her after apparently asking her to help him with his English.

    And a possible reason why Hawker went to his apartment:

    The couple sat at a table for 50 minutes before Ichihashi made a deliberate fuss of searching for enough money to pay for coffee and a snack.

    The CCTV footage shows Miss Hawker about to reach into her bag, apparently to help him out. “It is possible that he told her that she should come to his flat so he could pay her for the lesson,” said a police officer.

    Update 9[5:45PM Japan Time April 5, 2007]: Not much new in the media, but the police have announced that Ichihashi’s bike has been missing from the area near his apartment and they suspect he may be using it for transport.

    Update 10[1:30PM Japan Time April 8, 2007]: Very little new information has come out regarding this case, but here is what has been reported since the 5th:

    The taxi driver who drove Hawker and Ichihashi to Ichihashi’s apartment was found and interviewed by the press. He said that the two did not talk inside his taxi, but when they got out, Ichihashi told the driver to wait for a few minutes. The press has speculated that Ichihashi may have been saying this to fool Hawker into believing that she would soon be able to go back to the taxi and leave. The taxi company was very busy that day, so the driver had to leave after a very short time waiting.

    The Japan Times has printed an article that is very critical of the police, quoting retired Japanese police officers who suspect the police officers involved in this case made some major errors. The article also reveals:

    Police do not know how much money Ichihashi may have been carrying had when he escaped, but Terajima said Ichihashi has not withdrawn cash from any bank ATM. There have also been no reports of him buying either food or clothing.

    A new article from the Mirror takes a sensational look at an essay Ichihashi wrote as a teenager, in which he fantasizes about becoming a peeping tom.

    Update 11[4:30PM Japan Time April 9, 2007] The latest developments in this case:

    • Ichihashi is believed to have been carrying 50,000 yen in cash on his person when he fled his apartment. Two weeks have passed and he has yet to withdraw any money from an ATM.
    • Police have located Ichihashi’s bike in the parking area of the train station closest to his apartment.
    • Nikan Gendai has reported on some of the theories regarding Ichihashi’s whereabouts. Some believe he may have committed suicide, while others think he may be in Osaka.
    • 300,000 wanted posters have been distributed to locations across Japan to aid in the search (an example can be found below).

    Update 12[6:50AM Japan Time April 20, 2007] Over 20 days have passed since the murder, and the police have yet to locate Ichihashi. There is speculation that Ichihashi has committed suicide. Meanwhile Lindsay Ann Hawker’s funeral is finally taking place.

    Update 13[1:50PM Japan Time May 08, 2007] The top story on this morning’s Japanese news programs was the release of new footage showing Ichihashi:


    Images of Ichihashi, taken by a security camera in the elevator of his apartment building for several days before Hawker’s body was found, were widely shown by Japanese broadcasters.

    “We hope to get more information (from the public),” a police official said.

    The police contact number is clearly displayed at the end of the video.

    Update 14[1:50PM Japan Time May 17, 2007] Lindsay Ann Hawker’s parents appeared on the news this morning in Japan, calling on people to help locate the killer of their daughter:

    Holding up a poster of suspect Tatsuya Ichihashi, he said: “If anybody at all knows this man, please please do not hide it. He needs to be brought to justice.” –Birmingham Post Article

    Update 15[1:00AM Japan Time May 26, 2007] The British government is calling for more action:

    British Foreign Secretary Margaret Beckett on Tuesday urged the Japanese media to give more coverage to the murder case of Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker in the hopes that it will help bring the killer to justice.

    Beckett made the comments at a joint evening news conference with Foreign Minister Taro Aso, held after their meeting.

    Update 16[June 09, 2007] With little progress being made in the case, Britain’s ambassador expressed his disappointment:

    British Ambassador to Japan Graham Fry expressed hope Thursday that the police will soon apprehend the 28-year-old Japanese man wanted in connection with the murder of a British woman in Chiba Prefecture in March. “I’m disappointed that he is not yet caught…I hope he will be caught soon,” Fry said in response to a question about the case of Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, whose body was found March 26 at the suspect’s condominium.

    But he also defended the police, saying they are “doing their best” and that more than 100 police officers are still working on the case and about 30,000 posters have been printed and displayed at police boxes and other locations.

    In other news:

    Lindsay’s parents have set up http://www.lindsayannhawker.com/ , a site aimed at spreading awareness of this case and calling for the capture of Ichihashi.

    -Mainichi’s English edition has run a translation of some tabloid articles about Ichihashi’s past experiences with trying to pick up foreign women.

    According to a report, Ichihashi’s father told Lindsay Ann Hawker’s parents that he hoped “our son will atone for his crime as soon as possible.”
    Update 17[June 20, 2007] Lindsay’s family has traveled to Japan and is expected to make an appeal for progress on TV within the next couple days. They will also be accompanied by British police:

    Warwickshire Police said two officers were travelling to Tokyo to assist the family of Lindsay Hawker, who are expected to make an appeal for information about the 22-year-old’s death.

    A force spokesman stressed that the officers, thought to be family liaison specialists, were not being sent to assist directly in the investigation.

    Update 18[June 27, 2007] Lindsay’s parents have arrived in Japan:

    Lindsay Ann Hawker’s parents arrived at Narita airport apparently to generate fresh media coverage of the still unsolved case. They plan to hold a press conference on Friday, the British embassy said.

    “We hope for justice for Lindsay. That’s all we are here for,” said her father, Bill Hawker, who held up a picture of his 22-year-old daughter to television crews filming his arrival.

    Update 19[June 30, 2007] A few new developments:
    -Lindsay’s sister has told the press that Ichihashi wanted to keep Lindsay’s body in his bathtub as a twisted shrine.
    -A t-shirt campaign has been launched to spread awareness about Ichihashi and urge his capture.
    Update 20[July 2, 2007] Lindsay’s family has been making appearances on major Japanese news programs, and a video of them calling on people to find Ichihashi is currently the most-viewed news video on Yahoo Japan. It has also been revealed that police suspect Ichihashi is hiding close to the scene of the crime. Apparently one Japanese television program the Hawkers appeared on made them sit through a re-enactment of the murder:

    The Hawkers arrived in Tokyo last Wednesday for meetings with police and embassy officials and interviews with the Japanese media.

    These included an appearance on Saturday night on The Power of Television, a two-hour live programme that had been billed as the equivalent of Crimewatch. Instead, it featured contributions from psychics and a lurid re-enactment of Ms Hawker’s murder that reduced her sister and parents to tears.

    The Hawkers have said they will keep coming back to Japan until the man who killed their daughter is caught.

    Update 20 [August 15, 2007] Police still haven’t captured Ichihashi. There is very little new information about this case, but Richard Lloyd Parry of the Times has an update on his blog.

    Update 21[August 22, 2007] More news from Kyodo:

    Bill Hawker, who was recently given the autopsy report, told the newspaper, “It was a horrific murder. There was literally not a square inch of her body that wasn’t badly bruised.

    “He tied her up with horticultural tape. This is dreadful to say, but he punched, kicked or used a blunt instrument throughout her body. This could have gone on a day and a half possibly, before the poor thing eventually died.

    “There was total bruising of the front of the body, defensive bruises on her arms, which were dreadfully knocked about, all of her back, the inside of her legs. It was as if he’d systematically injured every part of her body.

    “When I had to identify my daughter, the Japanese had her so that I could only see the top of her head and her face. I didn’t want to see the rest of her body. Her face was badly beaten. They had put on a lot of make-up and my daughter never wore make-up. So we never realized the extent of her injuries.

    “He also cut her hair off — the final indignity for her was to have her hair cut off.”

    Hawker’s parents recently criticized the police’s handling of the murder investigation.

    Update 22[September 24, 2007] Ichihashi remains at large. The Daily Mail has published an interview with Lindsay’s sister.

    Update 23[December 12, 2007] Some of Lindsay’s friends gathered in Tokyo to pass out fliers over the weekend. They wore t-shirts with Ichihashi’s face on them and were able to get some attention from the Japanese news media.

    Ichihashi’s photographs can been seen on wanted posters throughout Japan, and I can personally report that I’ve seen them at dozens of locations throughout the Tokyo Area.

    Update 24[August 22, 2008] – Wanted posters for Ichihashi remain up, but there has been no clear sign of him. Hawker’s family has renewed the call for justice:

    More information on the family’s efforts to track down Ichihashi can be found at the website lindsayannhawker.com. Anyone with information on his whereabouts can call the special hotline in Japan set up by the family’s supporters at 03-6688-7677.

    Update 25: [October 23, 2008] The Times reports that police could scale down the investigation because they think Ichihashi may have committed suicide.

    Update 25: [March 27, 2009] The second anniversary of the crime has passed, but Ichihashi is still at large.

    Update 26: [November 10, 2009] The manhunt is over. Tatsuya Ichihashi has finally been arrested.

    [Previous update here.]

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