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1 Million Yen Reward Offered For Information in the Lindsay Hawker Case

"We want to raise public concern"

Three months have passed since the body of Lindsay Ann Hawker was found at a condominium in the Fukuei neighbourhood of Ichikawa City. However, murder suspect1 Tatsuya Ichihashi's whereabouts remain unknown.

Today (June 29), National Police Agency announced a 1 million yen2 cash reward for information leading to the arrest of Ichihashi.3

The reward money will be offered for a one year period from June 29 2007 until June 28 2008. Additionally, 20,000 copies of a new wanted poster and 10,000 copies of a flyer have been produced4. 5000 of the flyers will be distributed for display at nationwide branches of Hawker's previous place of employment as an English language instructor. 5

As the investigation has prolonged, new leads have rapidly decreased. As of June 27, 1049 tips have been received: 457 in April, 356 in May and only 101 in June.6 While a suspect has already been identified, a cash reward lends the case more public impact. "We want to raise public concern and receive more reliable and accurate information" said a high-ranking police spokesperson.

Ichihashi is 180cm tall with a slim build and has a habit of walking with a slightly slouched back. He also has two vertically aligned moles on his left cheek.7

Lindsay's flatmate suspected something was wrong when Lindsay did not return home and contacted police. Police paid a visit to Ichihashi, who had sheduled an English lesson at his house with Hawker shortly before her disappearance. While being questioned, Ichihashi fled along a road 200m from his apartment. Police lost his trail in the pursuit and his whereabouts have remained unknown since.

Police have kept 145 officers involved in the case (see April 26th entry). Tips from witnesses claiming to have seen someone who resembles Ichihashi have been gathered by investigators dispatched around the country, yet he remains at large. Train station and convenience store security cameras are being monitored, but no images of Ichihashi have appeared as of yet.

"In most cases, there is uncovered evidence or captured security camera images. For an investigation to continue this long with nothing turning up is rare," said the spokesman.

Gyotoku Police Hotline: 047-397-0110

Update: As mentioned in this Japan Times article (free subscription required), it was the National Police Agency that has put up the reward. The international aspects of the case are also covered.

Update 2: This article on Yahoo! UK includes quotes from and an image of Lindsay Hawker's parents at the press conference held today in Tokyo.

1 Although Ichihashi is the prime suspect in Lindsay Hawker's murder, the official crime he is listed as being suspected of (in all media) is "illegal disposal of a dead body," which is often the first charge in a murder case. The standard reference to Ichihashi in every article is the unwieldy "Unemployed Ichikawa City resident suspected of abandonment of a dead body, Tatsuya Ichihashi." The replacement of this with "murder suspect" or simply "suspect" in my translations both aids the flow of the writing as well as providing the Western equivalent of the crime he'd be wanted for questioning in, though it is not technically a correct translation.

2 Approximately US$8,500 according to June 29 rates (see the Universal Currency Converter for the most up to date exchange rates).

3 It's difficult to explain in the flow of the article itself, but esentially the case has been "designated" as one in which reward money (garnered from public funds) can be offered.

4 See info and images on the official Chiba Police site. There are downloadable PDF files of the current wanted poster (which offers the reward and features new photos of Ichihashi) and the previous version (see April 10th article). Click on poster image to download a high resolution version.

5 Lindsay Hawker worked as an English language instructor for Nova at the company's Koiwa branch (also see school's dedicated page here -- Japanese only).

6 The discrepancy between the 1049 total tips and the 914 received from April 1 until June 27 may be accounted for by tips received in the last six days of March.

7 The article uses the term nekoza, which literally translates as "cat's back". It's often used to describe a slouched gait and is sometimes purposely affected by criminals, particularly yakuza members. The moles are not visible in either of the wanted posters. This could be because they are of similar colour as the rest of Ichihashi's face.

Article Source: Yahoo! News Japan, June 29th 2007, 1:01pm (Tokyo). Originally appeared in the Mainichi Shimbun, June 29 (article not online).

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