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Man charged with murder of female student

A 35-year-old man held in connection with the death of a female university student whose body was found buried last month in the city of Kamisu, Ibaraki Prefecture, was arrested Sunday on suspicion of her murder.
Koichi Hirose, who was initially arrested on Jan 31 for allegedly dumping the body of 18-year-old student Natsumi Kikuchi, admitted to choking her to death but remained silent about his motive, investigative sources said.
Kikuchi's body had been found on the day Hirose was taken into custody in a field about a dozen kilometers from Hirose's apartment.
Kikuchi went missing after visiting the city on Nov 20. The suspect told investigators he and the student came to know each other through an internet bulletin board.
"I killed a woman I came to know through an (internet) bulletin board because she started to make a fuss. I buried her," Hirose was quoted by the police as saying. The body was found in a field about a dozen kilometers from his apartment.
On Nov 20, Kikuchi, took a train from JR Ayase Station in Tokyo, to the city of Kashima in Ibaraki Prefecture, and later headed to nearby Kamisuby taxi. She got out at a convenience store, about 400 meters from the man's residence, at around 6 p.m.
The student, a native of Tochigi Prefecture and resident of Tokyo's Katsushika Ward, had asked a neighbor to show her the way to Hirose's home before she went missing. The signal from her mobile phone cut out around 11 p.m. on Nov 20, near the site where the body was found, according to investigative sources.
At the time, Hirose said he met Kikuchi on Nov 20 but she quickly went home, the sources said.
But he changed his story after his arrest. "I killed her inside the car because she made a fuss. I dug a hole and buried her," Hirose was quoted as saying.
According to local residents, Hirose moved to the apartment around last summer and did not socialize with neighbors.
"He was not sociable and looked like the kind of person who does not open his heart to others," said a man who used to work with Hirose at a construction company in Kashima.
A male resident of Hirose's apartment building said that one evening last November he saw a young woman weeping and saying that she could not get back to Tokyo because she had no money.


© KYODO
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