Tatsuya Ichihashi is a Japanese murderer convicted of raping, torturing, and brutally murdering Lindsay Hawker, an American language teacher, on March 25, 2007. After escaping police twice, Tatsuya spent two years as a fugitive until his arrest in November 2009. Tatsuya evaded arrest by performing plastic surgery on his own face.
日本へようこそ ( ‘Welcome to Japan’)
According to Lindsay’s father, Bill Hawker, her daughter was so approachable that she could talk to anyone, even someone completely random, and create an instant and lasting connection. “From tramps and university professors alike”, Bill would say.
One of Lindsay’s highschool teachers at King Henry VIII’s School in Coventry said about her, “I knew Lindsay well. She was a very popular student and the school and staff are devastated.”
“A lovely girl”, one neighbor in her home county of Warwickshire told reporters after hearing the horrid news of Lindsay’s murder.Perhaps it was this gift of connecting that Lindsay that helped the 22-year-old decide that she wanted to teach English for a short stint in Japan.
Lindsay Hawker graduated from the prestigious Leeds University in 2006. Her degree was biology, an eerie similarity to her future killer’s educational background of botany.
As a top graduate, Lindsay was on track for her Master’s degree, but first wanted to travel, as most 22-year-old girls would.
Lindsay’s father had his concerns, but she reassured him by saying that Japan is the “safest place in the world after New Zealand.”
She left for Japan in October 2006 after accepting a position at the Koiwa School in Tokyo. Lindsay would be dead 5 months after her arrival. The school and the company she worked for, The Nova Organization, would file for bankruptcy 6 months after her murder.
An Eerie Approach
Tuesday, March 20th, was like any other normal day for Lindsay Hawker. She was sitting in her usual seat, on her usual train ride, back to her apartment after a long day of teaching.
Lindsay had always believed that Japanese people had some of the nicest personalities in the world, which may be why she found herself in a conversation with a man who approached her as she exited the train and unlocked her bicycle.
There was no way to know that in only 5 short days that this nice-looking man, Tatsuya Ichihashi, would brutally rape, torture, and strangle her to death.
“You’re my English teacher”, Tatsuya said, knowing that this was completely untrue.
“I’m not.” Lindsay replied, now getting an eerie feeling about this man.
“But you are an English teacher?” Tatsuya continued.
It wasn’t too far stretched for Tatsuya Ichichashi to guess Lindsay was an English teacher. She was an American, a female, most likely had books on her person or other signs of her occupation.
As Lindsay cycled away, Tatsuya followed her to her apartment, running alongside of her. It is important to point out that Tatsuya was a fitness junkie and in excellent shape, which is how he could keep up with her.
Once at Lindsay’s apartment, her stalker used the rouse of needing a glass of water to gain entry inside. Lindsay obliged, mainly to show the man that she lived with two other roommates.
Lindsay was beyond creeped out at this point.
An eerie last message left from Lindsay to her boyfriend, Ryan Garside, on his Facebook wall said,
“Love u lots dont worry abt the gut (guy) who chased me home, its jus crazy Japan. miss u xxx.”
Whatever tactics Tatsuya used to convince Lindsay for a private English lesson is unknown, but we know the two met at a local coffee shop the next Sunday morning.
Police found a sketch drawing of Lindsay Hawker in her room. Perhaps this quick sketch was enough to convince his victim that he was harmless.
The Nova Organization allowed for their teachers to give private lessons outside the school, but advised that they should only do so in public places and to leave a note of where they will be. This wouldn’t be the first private lesson Lindsay Hawker had given.
But it would be her last.
It wasn’t until Lindsay had missed two days of work that her school contacted the authorities. By this time Lindsay’s parents had already been worried sick when their daughter didn’t pick up the phone or reply to emails.
Tokyo Police found the note on Lindsay’s dresser extremely helpful as it not only provided Tatsuya Ichihashi’s name but also his apartment address.
Slow To Rot
CCTV reveals both Lindsay Hawker and Tatsuya Ichihashi entering the apartment, but only one leaves again.
Lindsay had told the cab driver to wait as she went upstairs with Tatsuya. “It will only be a minute,” she told him. The cab driver pulls off 7 minutes later, now having to live with this decision for the rest of his life. One source said the driver showed deep regret and remorse that he didn’t wait longer, or even go up to check on the foreigner.
An autopsy performed on Lindsay showed she had “egg-sized” bruise marks covering her entire body.
“Barely an inch of her body was unmarked by bruises or injuries, even her feet.”
These many markings show that Tatsuya, a black-belt in martial arts, had literally pushed and bounced Lindsay off of his apartment furniture, which left these distinct marks.
During this horrifying struggle, Tatsuya raped Lindsay, keeping her screams silent by pushing her head into the bath water.
The sadistic killer then cut off his victim’s hair. Police initially believe her hair would become a new wig to add to Tatsuya’s collection, but eventually realized it was because human hair is “slow to rot” and Tatsuya wanted to get rid of his crime as quickly as possible.
Tatsuya then took the bathtub outside to the balcony where he buried her body with decomposition soil. Bathtubs are easily removable apparently in Japan.
Lindsay would stay on the balcony outside as apart from her killer’s flower garden until police found her body.
Escaping Police… Twice
Police learned that Tatsuya Ichihashi had a prior arrest of ‘theft and injury’, in which he had assaulted an older woman during a robbery he was committing. Tatsuya’s father had paid off the court 1 million yen (about $6,000) to keep his deviant son out of prison.
Ichihashi had been dating someone for the last 12 months before the murder. They also believed him to be having sex with other men, as at least one male offered this information.
Police discovered Tatsuya came from a wealthy background in the medical field. His grandmother was a successful dentist and his father was a cancer surgeon.
At the time of the murder, Tatsuya was living off a monthly allowance of 600 euros per month.
9 police officers surrounded Tatsuya’s apartment building and 2 catching him walking down the stairs with a rucksack.
He was barefoot.
One officer had grabbed on to the rucksack, but Tatsuya slipped away using his parkour skills to leap from railing to railing and finally off a low-hanging balcony.
On the street, the 7 other officers who let him run past him confronted him, completely unaware that he was the prime perpetrator.
Tatsuya made his way down a darkened alley and actually came back to the gaggle of officers. Tatsuya was now wearing shoes he had stolen and again ran past the guards.
It would be 2 years and 5,000 sightings before they finally captured him.
Locals knew Tatsuya as a “sister-boy”, meaning cross dresser. He evaded capture by wearing wigs, dressing as a female, and paying for plastic surgery to alter his appearance.
Going by the name Kosuke Inoue, he was working as a builder for a construction company in Ibaraki.
A citizen alerted police via a phone tip as Tatsuya was headed for Naha in the Okinawa Prefecture.
He is currently serving life in prison.