A two and a half year search came to an end Tuesday when Japanese police arrested Tatsuya Ichihashi, the man accused of strangling a young British teacher, Lindsay Hawker, and burying her in a bath.
He was apprehended after being recognized by a passer by at a ferry terminal in the city of Osaka, where boats depart for destinations across Japan. He identified himself as Mr. Ichihashi and resembled photographs seized from cosmetic clinics where he had undergone plastic surgery.
The arrest marks the end of the road for a determined and resourceful fugitive who humiliated the Japanese police, and evaded one of Japan’s biggest criminal investigations. It was February 2007 when 22-year-old Hawker, an English teacher, disappeared after going Ichihashi’s apartment after a conversation lesson in a coffee shop.
When nine police officers visited the apartment in the suburban town of Gyotoku in Chiba prefecture, adjacent to Tokyo, he escaped from them in his bare feet. Inside, they found Hawker’s naked body in a bathtub on the balcony. Her hands and ankles had been tied with plastic cord used to bind plants, and she was buried in horticultural soil. The post mortem showed that she had been brutally beaten.
According to reports in Japanese newspapers, Ichihashi had earned the money for his plastic surgery as a construction worker in Osaka, where he had quietly lived in a small room in a company dormitory. He identified himself by the name and address of a dead man named Kosuke Inoue who had formerly lived in Osaka.