The parents of a murdered British teacher made an emotional plea for help in catching her killer at a news conference at the British embassy on Friday. In March, the naked body of Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, was found in a bathtub filled with sand on the balcony of an apartment belonging to Tatsuya Ichihashi, 28. Ichihashi eluded police when they visited his apartment to question him.
Hawker's parents, William and Julia, and her sister Louise, also said that they had received a letter of condolence from the parents of Ichihashi. "They said they were very sorry for what their son had done and hoped that he would atone for his crime," said Julia.
Asked about the lack of progress by police to catch Ichihashi, William said: "We are very disappointed at it, obviously. Personally I hope he's alive and that he is caught shortly so that he can be brought to justice. As a parent of Lindsay, I'd like to appeal to all parents...and all honest, working people of Japan to look for this man. This man is a misfit. He's a loner. He is distanced from his own family.
"This evil man must be caught so that other British people can come to your country and hopefully work in safety," he said. "Lindsay loved working in your country. She loved teaching."
He also unveiled a T-shirt bearing Ichihashi's photo and the Japanese for "I can't sleep until he is caught," printed on them. "Three months ago, I showed a lot of you the photo of my daughter, which I still have, but the most important photo today is of this evil man who murdered, brutally murdered, my daughter," he said.
The Hawkers plan to appear on a weekend Japanese television show featuring a phone-in to gather fresh information on the case.
"When you are living 12,000 miles away, it's difficult to gain information. We've come back to Japan to raise the profile, to hopefully remind somebody somewhere that Ichihashi is still at large," said Julia.
"We want him captured. We feel we owe it to Lindsay, and that's the very least we can do. We've been helped tremendously over the last three months by the British police, by the Japanese police who have worked tirelessly and by the embassy staff both in Japan and in London. But we now need help from the Japanese people. We need leads. We need possible sightings and we need information."
Louise expressed concern that Ichihashi might commit a similar crime again if he continues to be on the loose.
"The suspect had no intention of ever giving up or even running away from the scene of the crime or ever feeling any remorse for what he did. He had all intention...to stay living in that flat with that body in the sand," Louise said.
"In my opinion, this man is going to hurt someone again, and whether it's a Western person or not, he could hurt anyone and needs to be caught immediately," she said.
Police said Friday they have received more than 1,000 tips and questioned 150 people. In an attempt to kickstart their stalled investigation, police have offered a 1 million yen reward for information leading to the arrest of Ichihashi. Police officers handed out wanted posters at Chiba, Gyotoku, Shinjuku, Ikebukuro and other train stations in the afternoon.
Julia urged people in Japan to provide any information they have on the suspect, however minute, to the police or on a website on Lindsay's case at www.lindsayannhawker.com.