NIIGATA – A 23-year-old man who was arrested Monday night in connection with the murder of a 7-year-old girl in the city of Niigata was absent from work on the day of the killing on May 7 and several days afterward, investigative sources said Tuesday.
Haruka Kobayashi, a company employee who lives in the same neighborhood as the victim, Tamaki Omomo, a second-grade elementary school student, was arrested on suspicion of abandoning and damaging her body.
Kobayashi has owned up to those two allegations, the police said, while investigative sources said he has also hinted that he killed the girl.
The police spotted him Monday morning in the city before questioning him on a voluntary basis.
Kobayashi allegedly dumped the girl’s corpse on railroad tracks around 10:30 p.m. on May 7 before the body was struck by a train, the police said.
The police found bruises on her face suggesting she had been strangled some time before the train hit her. An autopsy determined Omomo was choked to death.
The girl left the school with friends around 3 p.m. and disappeared after she parted with them near a railway crossing located 300 meters from her home.
She was likely killed hours before being run over by the train as her body temperature was low and there were few signs of bleeding when the police found her body shortly after being alerted by the driver of the train that hit her.
As another train had passed through the area about 10 minutes earlier without its driver noticing anything, the police believe the body was laid on the tracks during that 10-minute period.
According to the sources, a man described as “wearing black clothes and sunglasses,” who emerged as a person of interest after the girl told one of her friends she had been chased by such a man on her way to school on the day of her disappearance, turned out to have had nothing to do her death.
A white vehicle seen near the site where her body was found was also unrelated to the case, the sources said.