TOKYO (TR) – A woman was arrested for allegedly murdering her 2-month-old daughter by mixing medication into milk given to the victim last year, reports NHK (July 4).
Tokyo Metropolitan Police arrested Sachika Tabata, a 23-year-old resident of the Yagumo area of Meguro Ward, on suspicion of murder after she allegedly fed her daughter, Shion, with milk containing the medication on December 29, 2016.
Tabata is denying the charges, quoted by police as saying she “never put tablets in [my daughter’s] baby bottle.”
An investigative source familiar with the case said authorities became suspicious when no external wounds were found on Shion’s body, and performed an autopsy under a new law that allows a police station chief to do so when deemed necessary without consent from bereaved families.
Authorities detected two drug components in her stomach and blood — medication to lower blood pressure and for diabetes. The drug components matched the medication taken by Tabata’s mother, leading investigators to believe that the suspect mixed the medication into Shion’s milk since the infant was only drinking milk at the time.
Tabata was arrested after her involvement became clear during questioning of her family, police said, adding she was also found to be struggling with childcare issues.
Shion was born as a low-birth-weight infant and remained hospitalized until she died about a week after she recently started living at home, according to authorities.
A man in his 50s who runs a nearby flower shop said Tabata told him her “baby passed away.” She was crying when he brought her white chrysanthemums and lilies, he said. “I’ve known her since she was little, but she’s not the kind of kid who’d do something like this,” the man said, adding Tabata would visit his shop to buy flowers with her mother once a week. “She’s a kind person who thinks of her mother, so I really can’t believe that this happened,” the man said.
“I didn’t know she had a child”
A woman, who is a childhood friend of Tabata’s, said she visits the suspect for a meal almost every month. “I didn’t know she had a child, and I didn’t even realize she had been pregnant. She’s a kind girl who was recently doing things like taking care of her sick mother, so I’m shocked she was arrested,” she said.
A female neighbor in her 70s, who has known Tabata since she was a child, said the suspect didn’t mention anything about having a baby when she came to collect fees for the neighborhood association at the end of last year. “All she told me was that she quit working in the entertainment business because her condition wasn’t good,” the elderly neighbor said. “She’s not very sunny and she’s quite calm, but she was the kind of normal girl who would take her dog and pick up her dad from the station whenever he was working late, so I’m finding this a little hard to believe.”