Missing Sapporo girl rescued from confinement; man arrested
Police in Sapporo said Monday that a 9-year-old girl who had been missing since Jan 27 was found unharmed after being kept confined in an apartment near her home, and that a man has been arrested.
According to police, Rina Hataya, a 3rd year student at Higashi-Sapporo Elementary School, was rescued on Sunday night. Fuji TV reported that a 26-year-old unemployed man has been charged with kidnapping.
The girl was last seen after she left home at around 3 p.m. on Jan 27, telling her mother that she was going to buy a notebook for school. She was not seen again after that. After questioning the girl’s friends and the family’s neighbors, police released Hataya’s photo to the media, appealing for public help.
Up to Sunday, police said they received 198 leads, Fuji reported.
At around 10:30 p.m. Sunday, police said they received a call from a neighbor of the suspect, identified as Hajime Matsui, stating, “There is a suspicious man living nearby who is always carrying comic books intended for young girls…I don’t know for sure, but he might be related to the case of the missing girl.”
A taxi driver also told police that Matsui had been a passenger in his cab.
Police waited outside apartment late Sunday night and when he came out, they asked if the missing girl was inside, Fuji TV reported. Matsui said no but police asked to search his apartment and found the girl inside.
According to police, the girl had never met Matsui before and said she was approached by Matsui in the parking lot near her house as she was returning home.
Matsui’s apartment is about 350 meters from the girl’s home.