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Ichihashi Worked in Osaka For Over a Year / Mother Denies Aiding Fugitive Son

The news is once again filled with new developments in the search for Lindsay Ann Hawker murder suspect1 Tatsuya Ichihashi.

There is now irrefutable evidence that Ichihashi was working at a construction company in Ibaraki City, northern Osaka for just over a year according to a police investigation.

Ichihashi's fingerprints were lifted from his work dormitory sleeping quarters (the same type of room pictured at left) after his manager contacted police upon seeing the post-operative photo of Ichihashi released last Thursday. The final day Ichihashi reported for work was October 11 of this year.

Ichihashi was originally hired by the company in Nishinari-ku (Nishinari ward) in September of 2008 and then dispatched to Ibaraki to work. Ichihashi applied for the job under the false name Kôsuke Inoue, also apparently the name he used when registering at the clinics where he underwent various cosmetic procedures. At the company dormitory Ichihashi would wear a red hat pulled far down on his head in addition to eyeglasses, according to a former co-worker.

It's ironic and certainly disheartening that the second entry on this blog, dating back to April 10, 2007, related the theory that Ichihashi may have been hiding out in the flophouse district of Nishinari-ku. It's possible that Ichihashi remained in the district from March of 2007 until September of 2008, working as a day labourer until he got regular work. As mentioned in the footnotes of the 2007 entry:

Kamagasaki, one of Japan's largest districts of cheap lodging for day labourers and the homeless, is located in Osaka's Nishinari Ward... The area is also well-known as a place where people drop out of society for different reasons.

Among the media outlets covering the news, this evening's Super J-Channel (TV Asahi, channel 5 4:53~7:00pm) recounted the basic facts of the Lindsay Hawker case, followed by the latest developments and analysis of Ichihashi's movements over the past two months.

Upon leaving the construction company after having earned approximately one million yen in wages, Ichihashi traveled to Fukuoka City where he was spotted at an internet cafe and was turned away at a cosmetic surgery clinic there for not providing proper identification. Ichihashi then made his way to Nagoya on October 24 and successfully underwent a second rhinoplasty procedure (see November 5 entry).

On November 4th a man matching Ichihashi's description was sighted at a convenience store and internet cafe back in Fukuoka City, where police are now tracking down his whereabouts.

Notably, the TV report also related an emphatic statement from the mother of Ichihashi issued two days ago:

"I first heard about [Tatsuya's] surgery on the news... I am absolutely not sheltering him in any way. If I was contacted by my son I would bring him to the police. I've had no contact whatsoever with him since the first reports of the case."

As someone following this case from the beginning, I must admit, like many people I was suspicious of Ichihashi receiving some kind of financial assistance from his affluent parents. With his mother's latest comments (she only spoke for herself, not using "we") and the records of his income it appears that was not the case. Ichihashi seems to have "hidden in plain sight" and worked to pay for transportation, living expenses and successive alterations to his face. Alterations made to remove any trace of the characteristics highlighted on the original wanted poster.

As mentioned in the previous blog entry, the best way to stay on top of articles in English is through Google news. Here is a link with all articles mentioning Ichihashi in descending order of newness.

1 Although Ichihashi is the prime suspect in Lindsay Hawker's murder, the official crime he is listed as being suspected of is "illegal disposal of a dead body," which is often the first charge in a murder case.

Article Sources: Mainichi Shimbun, NTV 24 News, etc., November 9, 2009. Unfortunately there is no guarantee as to how long original Japanese language articles remain archived online for free.

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