Ashikaga murder case
The Ashikaga murder case (足利事件 Ashikaga jiken ) occurred in the city of Ashikaga, Tochigi Prefecture, Japan. A 4-year-old girl went missing from a pachinko parlor on May 12, 1990 and was found dead at the Watarase River nearby.
In 1991, Toshikazu Sugaya was arrested and convicted of the murder based on primitive DNA evidence. However, in 2007 the journalist Kiyoshi Shimizu, who was given leeway to investigate the case after winning awards for previous reporting, discovered that the DNA testing method was imprecise. In 2009, when his DNA was checked again against the evidence, it conclusively showed that he was innocent. He was released in May 2009, after having been imprisoned for 17 years. Moreover, since the statute of limitations has passed, the perpetrator of the crime can no longer be brought to justice.
Events leading up to the trial
A series of murders
A series of murders of young girls occurred around Ashikaga city from 1979 to 2005. Toshikazu Sugaya was arrested and indicted on the 1990 case.
- August 3, 1979, a five-year-old girl was kidnapped and found dead in a backpack on August 9, 1979 near the Watarase River.
- November 17, 1984, a five-year-old girl was kidnapped and found dead on March 8, 1986 at a field east of Okubo elementary school in Ashikaga City.
- May 12, 1990, a four-year-old girl was kidnapped and found dead on May 13, 1990 at the Watarase River.
- June 7, 1996, a four-year-old girl was kidnapped and found dead and naked on June 13, 1996 on the left bank of the Watarase River.
- December 1, 2005, a seven-year-old girl was kidnapped and found dead.
In addition, two young girl murders occurred in Ohta City, Gunma Prefecture, on the prefecture's border with Ashikaga City.
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- Ashikaga murder case to be retried, Japan Times
- Social Construction of Motive and Membership Categorization: On Psychiatric Assessment in the "Ashikaga Case", Onuki Takamichi and Matsuki Hiroto
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