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Ibaraki: Man accused of murdering university student whose corpse found in field

IBARAKI (TR) – A man in custody in connection with the death of a female university student whose body was found buried in a field in Kamisu City last month has also been accused in her murder, police said over the weekend, reports the Asahi Shimbun (Feb. 10).

On February 10, police announced that Koichi Hirose, 35, of no known occupation, has been accused of murdering Natsumi Kikuchi, a 19-year-old resident of Tokyo’s Katsushika Ward who went missing last year.

During questioning, Hirose said that the murder came about after the pair got into a money-related dispute inside his vehicle while it was parked on a farming road on the night of November 20. “Since she threatened to spread information [about me on the internet], I killed her,” the suspect told police.

According to police, the suspect allegedly blocked the victim’s mouth and nose in fatally suffocating her.

Police first arrested Hirose on January 31 after he admitted to burying her body in a field near the coast — about 13 kilometers from his residence in Kamisu — during questioning. The results of a DNA analysis confirmed that the body was that of Kikuchi.

Koichi Hirose
Koichi Hirose (Twitter)

Missing on November 22

Following the initial arrest, police only said that the suspect claimed to have killed the victim “after she started getting noisy.” There was no mention of the money-related dispute.

Hirose got to know Kikuchi via an internet bulletin board. On November 20, shewent by train from JR Ayase Station in Tokyo to Kamisu after attending class at her university in the capital.

After exiting JR Kashimajingu Station, Kikuchi boarded a taxi for a convenience store nearby. She then went in the direction of the residence of the man who began undergoing questioning on Saturday, police said previously.

At around 11:00 p.m. that night, Kikuchi last exchanged messages with family and friends on her smartphone via the application Line. Her family reported her missing with the Ayase Police Station on November 22.

Police took Hirose in for voluntary questioning beginning on January 24. During the conversations, he said that he did meet her in front of his residence. “But she left immediately. I don’t know where she went,” he told police.

Hirose later changed his story. He also said that he threw Kikuchi’s phone into a river.