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Household appliance led to arrest in Nakano murder

Shukan Jitsuwa Mar. 31
Shukan Jitsuwa Mar. 31

On March 12, Tokyo police arrested Takahiro Tokura, 37, for allegedly strangling 25-year-old Risa Kagaya to death inside her residence in August of last year.

According to Shukan Jitsuwa (Mar. 31), the big break in the case came months into the investigation, and it was in the form of a mundane household appliance.

At approximately 10:00 p.m. on August 26, police found Kagaya’s naked body collapsed at the entrance of her second-floor apartment in Nakano Ward. Her face was covered by a towel. Police believe she was killed the night before.

“Her neck had pressure marks extending one to two centimeters deep, indicating she had been strangled by a rope or something similar,” an investigator tells the magazine. “The results of the autopsy revealed the cause of death to be suffocation.”

In searching the residence, police determined that approximately 10 items, including dresses belonging to the victim and an air conditioning remote control, had been taken.

The remote control proved to be a key in the case.

As a part of the investigation, police interviewed a number of friends and acquaintances of the victim. During the questioning, they discovered that a remote control unit had been stolen from the apartment of another woman living alone in the area. The building is about 400 meters from the scene of the crime.

“The connection wasn’t clear at the time,” continues the investigator, “but the suspect was living in the same building. Just after the murder of Kagaya, he moved out, and that’s how he became a person of interest.”

In the middle of February, police obtained a DNA sample from Tokura, who by then was living in his hometown in Fukushima Prefecture. A DNA analysis of human skin found under Kagaya’s fingernails and saliva and sweat on her chest matched with samples obtained from the suspect. He was apprehended a few weeks later.

Tokura, who has been charged with murder, at first denied the charges, telling police that he did not know the victim, but later admitted to the crime.

Takahiro Tokura
Takahiro Tokura

Kagaya had been working part-time at an izakaya restaurant. She was also enrolled in a theater group as a part of her pursuit to become an actress.

Police have not yet determined a motive for the crime. During questioning, the suspect confirmed that he was not acquainted with the victim.

He told police that he spotted Kagaya returning home at approximately 12:30 a.m. on August 25. He then followed her inside the front door.

“I wanted to communicate on Line,” he said, referring to the social-networking service.

About two hours before the discovery of her body, Kagaya’s boss at the restaurant consulted with police after she failed to arrive at work and he was unable to contact her at her residence.

Source: “Tokyo Nakano gekidan-in satsugai jiken jikka tobo 6-kagetsu de oikoma reta 37-sai yōgi-sha no sugao,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Mar. 31, page 44)