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Tuesday, March 25, 2008
Hawker's kin in Japan to prod manhunt
By JUN HONGO
Visiting Japan a year after her slaying, the parents and sisters of Briton Lindsay Ann Hawker voiced disappointment Monday that the fugitive sought in her killing remains at large.
Although "extremely distressed" that Tatsuya Ichihashi was not captured immediately, Bill Hawker, Lindsay's father, emphasized at a Tokyo news conference that "we have not come here to criticize the Japanese police."
"He murdered my daughter, and he might murder again," the father asserted, suggesting the apparently stalled investigation endangers the public at large.
The body of 22-year-old Hawker was found buried in gardening soil in a detached bathtub on the balcony of Ichihashi's condo in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, on March 26 last year.
A barefoot Ichihashi eluded capture when police came to his home that day to investigate the disappearance of Hawker, an English teacher with the Nova language school chain.
Although on Chiba Prefectural Police's most wanted list, the 29-year-old has remained a fugitive ever since.
"Somebody must be helping Ichihashi," Bill Hawker asserted to reporters. "How can he keep evading detection?"
Directly addressing the suspect in Japanese, Lindsay's older sister, Lisa, said, "I implore you, please atone for your crime."
Hawker's parents and sisters Lisa and Louise arrived Monday in Japan for a two-day stay to be updated by Chiba police on the investigation as well as to speak with the media in a bid to raise the profile of the Ichihashi manhunt.
The family will join with Chiba police Tuesday in passing out leaflets and are scheduled to be briefed on the progress of the investigation.
Julia Hawker, Lindsay's mother, said she intended to ask police to explain why they had not yet caught Ichihashi.
Bill Hawker also revealed that Ichihashi's family has not responded to a letter he sent asking that they help locate the suspect.
Chiba police have received over 3,000 tips from the public regarding Ichihashi. They believe he is staying at 24-hour Internet cafes or is homeless and living off earnings from day labor jobs.
Police have posted a video giving details of the suspected killer on a Web site and put up posters showing what Ichihashi may look like disguised as a female. Police said the fugitive has not been in contact with his parents or friends.
Nova and Hawker's roommates notified police of her disappearance after she failed to report to work on March 25, 2007.
Police obtained information about Ichihashi from Hawker's roommates, including a sketch of the young woman drawn by the suspected killer, which also contained his phone number.
Five days before she disappeared, Ichihashi had followed Hawker home and got her to agree to teach him a private English lesson. It was then that he left the sketch and phone number.
Police traced the number to Ichihashi's condo, but the suspect bolted when they tried to question him at about 9:40 p.m. on March 26.