WAKAYAMA - A 22-year-old man was arrested early Saturday on suspicion of murdering a fifth-grade primary school boy in the Shireda district in Kinokawa, Wakayama Prefecture, where the boy was stabbed to death on Thursday.
The Wakayama prefectural police arrested Oshu Nakamura, an unemployed man living about 50 meters northwest of the vacant lot where Toshi Morita, 11, a student of municipal Nate Primary School, was killed.
Nakamura, who denied the allegation, was quoted as telling the police: "I didn't kill him. I've never seen the boy." The police confiscated several edged tools from the suspect's house.
The police will analyse the edged tools on suspicion that they likely include one used in the murder, and will investigate the motive and other details of the crime.
According to the police, the suspect allegedly killed Morita at about 4:15 p.m. Thursday in the vacant lot, which is about 30 meters west of the victim's house. The police alleged that the suspect slashed and stabbed about 10 places on the boy's body, including the top of the head, the chest and both arms. The direct cause of death was blood loss due to chest wounds.
The prefectural police's Katsuragi Police Station questioned Nakamura on a voluntary basis beginning on Friday evening.
The only eyewitness, a man who spotted the apparent killer near the crime scene, told the police that the man at the crime scene was Nakamura. Mainly based on the testimony, the police served an arrest warrant to him at 1:26 a.m. Saturday. Nakamura was then transferred to Iwade Police Station, where the investigation headquarters was set up.
One of the confiscated edged tools is a heavy tool like a chopper, which the police regard as the weapon used in the murder, according to sources. The shape of the edged tool was reportedly found to be consistent with the victim's wounds by a judicial autopsy.
Nakamura lives with his parents. According to his neighbours, he came to have less contact with others after quitting a local industrial high school.
According to the prefectural police, Nakamura said he had no personal acquaintance with Morita.
But the police have found that in January, Nakamura, holding an umbrella, chased Morita's 12-year-old elder brother, a first-year middle school student, while the brother was commuting to a cram school on a bicycle. Nakamura also peeped into Morita's house, the police said.
The prefectural police said it is possible that Nakamura had some kind of emotional fixation on Morita's family.
However, the police also said that in the same month, Nakamura chased about another person, who was apparently a middle or high school student. The police will examine whether the series of actions were related to the murder.
When Nakamura was arrested, he had his hair cut very short, and thus his appearance differed widely from before the murder.
The prefectural police said it is possible that Nakamura changed his hairstyle to prevent himself from being suspected after the murder.
The prefectural police said they will record in videos the entire process of questioning Nakamura to prove his testimony is voluntarily made and not coerced.
At the entrance of Morita's house, a paper bearing a message was displayed on Saturday morning. The paper, claiming to have been written by the victim's bereaved family members, read: "We family members have been distressed by this shocking incident. For now, we wish to see off his soul quietly."