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Wrong Place, Wrong Time

Lindsay Ann Hawker was born on December 30th 1984. She was smart, popular, kind and adventurous. After graduating college, she left home to move to Japan in October 2006. There she started working in Chiba, just outside of Tokyo in Koiwa, as part of the Tokyo branch of Nova.

On the night of March 20th she was on the train home from work when she caught the eye of Tatsuya Ichihashi, who ran along side her trying to strike up a conversation as she cycled home. Although wary of the random man who had followed her back to her flat, Lindsay allowed him to come inside where she knew her flatmates would be so she felt safe. Maybe she thought that once he knew she was not alone he would leave her be. In the flat, he sketched Lindsays portrait and signed it with his name and contact details. Tatsuya asked Lindsay to give him an English lesson at a café that weekend and, needing the cash, Lindsay agreed.  

On the morning of March 25th, Lindsay and Tatsuya met up at a café. She gave him an English lesson and after that Tatsuya said he had to go to his apartment to get some more cash to pay her. They shared a taxi to his flat near Gyotoku Station in Chiba Prefecture to get the money. Lindsay was due to begin a shift at the English conversation school Koiwa at 10:50 so she asked the taxi driver to wait while she went inside to get the money.  

After seven minutes of waiting the taxi driver left. Lindsay was never coming back. Lindsay was reported missing by her friends and the school she worked for.

It didn’t take long for the police to become suspicious of Tatsuya Ichihashi. He had left all of his details on a drawing in Lindsays apartment. Officers were sent to Ichihashis address just before 6pm on March 26th. There did not seem to be anyone home and they called for assistance. The officers were not permitted to knock without proper cause, seven more officers arrived.  Just before 10pm, while all 9 policemen were gathered at the address, Ichihashi walked out. He had no shoes on and a backpack on his back. When he noticed the officers he made a run for it.  Police were unable to catch him for the next 2 and a half years.

Inside the flat Lindsays clothes were scattered across the floor, as were her passport and handbag. Police noticed that the freestanding bathtub had been removed from the bathroom and dragged onto the balcony of the fourth floor apartment.  

In the middle of what would have been a typical ornamental garden, a hand was sticking out of the soil. It was Lindsay. She was naked, gagged and bound with plastic gardening ties.

When Lindsay went up to Tatsuyas 4th floor apartment he had a plan. When they entered his home he hit her in the face and bound her wrists. The autopsy revealed that she had likely been tied up and repeatedly raped and beaten for hours. The ligature marks on her wrists indicated she had struggled greatly.

Tatsuya Ichihashi went on the run on the night of March 26th 2007 after police arrived at his apartment to talk to him about the dissappearance of Lindsay Hawker. He had already altered his appearance, piercing his nose and changing his hairstyle. Police had released photos of what he would look like disguised as a woman or with various hairstyles. He was one of Japans most wanted criminals but he managed to evade police by wearing face masks and never staying in one place for long.  

Tatsuya Ichihashi had been saving his money for plastic surgery to alter his appearance. He had procedures done at different hospitals while on the run and had even attempted to change his looks himself by using a scissors to cut his bottom lip and a knife to remove two moles on his cheek.  

A clinic who Ichihashi had approached to have work done had contacted the police and provided new photos of the killer. He had been going under a different name but the police knew what he looked like now and it didn’t take long for someone to spot him.  Someone spotted him at a ferry terminal in Osaka and he was arrested before he could board and escape yet again. 

The Hawkers had been asked how Lindsays death affected them, her father said; 

‘We live in a different world now. Our close family don’t know how to approach us.

'We don’t go out because people don’t know what to say to us. I have to take drugs to counter my depression and I feel constantly angry.

'They say time heals when you have a tragedy like this, but it doesn’t.’

Julia Hawker had been unable to take a bath or step foot on the family balcony after her daughters death, in response to the prosecutors questions she said;

'I don't know how anyone can begin to imagine how shocking it is to receive the news that your child has died. When we heard that Lindsay had been murdered, we were all totally devastated, we couldn't sleep or eat and I was terrified of letting my other two daughters out of my sight. I blamed myself for letting her come here and I couldn’t take a bath for two years. We have a balcony and I cannot go on it any more, if I get into an elevator and someone strange steps in, I have to step out. My two daughters, Lisa and Louise, have lost their best friend and I cannot find the words to describe fully how this has affected our family.'

The family had fought for 4 years to get justice for Lindsay and they had finally gotten it. 

Ichihashi was sentenced to life in prison. He will be eligible for parole next year under Japans sentencing laws but it is likely he will serve at least 20 years. The Hawkers will live out their lives with a harsher sentence, life without Lindsay.

Picture AP Photo/Shizuo Kambayashi

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