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LINDSAY KILLER'S PHONE CALL HOME; EXCLUSIVE Tokyo fugitive's message to say 'I am still alive'.

Byline: NICK OWENS in Tokyo

THE weirdo fugitive suspected of murdering Brit teacher Lindsay Hawker made a silent phone call to his parents to let them know he is still alive.

Loner Tatsuya Ichihashi rang home from a phone box in Osaka - 300 miles from the fourth-floor Tokyo flat he fled as cops found Lindsay's naked and battered body buried in a bathful of sand on the balcony.

Police believe he phoned his parents after rumours that he had committed suicide were published and broadcast.

A detective said: "When his father picked up the phone the line went dead.

"We believe it was his son because the day before there had been speculation he had committed suicide. We think it was his way of saying 'I'm still here'."

Last night police flooded into the city of Osaka to search warehouses and derelict buildings and put up thousands of wanted posters. Police have been hunting Ichihashi, 28, for two weeks. He is thought to have stalked Lindsay, 22, for five months before persuading her to teach him English privately. Pals have been emailing Ichihashi, begging him to hand himself in.

Japanese police, already facing criticism for not catching him, were further embarrassed yesterday by the revelation that Ichihashi made his escape on a push bike.

Former Japanese detective Akio Kuroki, now a crime writer, said police had bungled their bid to find Ichihashi. He said: "There are huge contradictions in their explanation about why he got away. A man should not be able to run barefoot from nine police officers, jump on a push bike and disappear off the face of the Earth."

Two detectives from Warwickshire are now in Japan helping the investigation and keeping Lindsay's family informed of any developments.

Last night Lindsay's best friend in Japan, Kate McCarten, 22, said: "We still can't believe Lindsay has gone. There is total shock. She was a wonderful friend and a brilliant person. Everyone just wants to see the man who did this caught." Craig Keita, Lindsay's boss at the Nova teaching school in Koiwa, Chiba, added: "To get a sense of normality back the man who did this must be captured."

Flowers were left yesterday at the entrance to Ichihashi's apartment in Gyotoku, where Lindsay's naked and bound body was found. One message read: "We pray for you. Your suffering has ended. Please be happy where you are." Another simply read: "We love you Lindsay."

Ichihashi is believed to have become obsessed with ex-Leeds University student Lindsay five months ago when he saw her dancing in the Melting Pot pub opposite to the Other Side Bar, in Minami-Gyotoku. He glanced at her through the window but did not go in. Weeks later he was thrown out of the Melting Pot for hassling girls. He followed Lindsay several times and once chased her home after she left the train station, near her flat.

When he caught up with her she agreed to give him an English lesson for 5,000 Yen - pounds 25. Lindsay was keen to give private lessons as she was saving money to visit her family in Brandon, Warks, for Easter.

She had put an advert on the internet offering lessons as an English teacher two weeks before she was killed. She placed her profile, including a picture, on findateacher.net - a site popular with English teachers working in Japan.

Lindsay was punched, tortured and strangled when she went back to Ichihashi's flat to collect her money.

Ichihashi has survived two weeks on the run by using cash he stored under his bed. He had built up a large amount of savings from the pounds 800 a month his wealthy parents gave him.

nick.owens@sundaymirror.co.uk

CAPTION(S):

Victim... Brit teacher Lindsay Hawker; The Melting Pot Bar where Lindsay was seen dancing; Wanted... Lindsay's killer Tatsuya Ichihashi; Tributes... wreaths left outside the flat
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Article Details
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Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Geographic Code:9JAPA
Date:Apr 8, 2007
Words:647
Previous Article:Suicidal climber banned.
Next Article:'Western girls are harassed.. I'm followed 4 times a day' EXCLUSIVE.


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