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Abused girl had water in lungs at time of death: investigative source

Investigators from Chiba Prefectural Police search an apartment building where Mia Kurihara was found dead, in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, on Jan. 26, 2019. (Mainichi/Mayumi Nobuta)

CHIBA -- Investigators probing the death of Mia Kurihara, a 10-year-old girl who suffered from parental abuse, found that her lungs contained water, an individual close to the investigation has disclosed.

Investigators suspect that the girl, who was found dead at her home, may have been forced to take in water from her nose or mouth.

Mia was found collapsed on her back in the bathroom of her apartment in Noda, Chiba Prefecture, east of Tokyo, at around 11:20 p.m. on Jan. 24 by paramedics who rushed to the scene after her father Yuichiro called police, according to the investigative sources. The 41-year-old father was quoted as telling them, "She stopped moving after I gave her a shower." Her clothes were wet.

Yuichiro was quoted as telling police, "I began disciplining her at around 10 a.m. that day. It was meant to be discipline, and I didn't intend to injure her."

In an autopsy conducted on Jan. 28, prefectural police said they were unable to identify the cause of Mia's death. Her stomach was almost empty, suggesting that she had not been fed enough. In the meantime, her lungs were found to contain water.

Prior to her death, Mia had been forcibly kept awake and was apparently in a debilitated state. Her mother Nagisa, 31, told investigators, "My daughter was assaulted by my husband during the winter break and sustained bruises that were visible, so we kept her inside for a month so (the abuse) wouldn't come to light."

Both of her parents have been arrested on suspicion of causing bodily injuries to Mia.

(Japanese original by Mayumi Nobuta and Shohei Kato, Chiba Bureau)

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