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Police arrest father of boy, 9, found dead in Saitama apartment meter box

The apartment block where the body of 9-year-old Ryosuke Shindo was found is pictured in Saitama's Minuma Ward on the morning of Sept. 18, 2019. (Mainichi/Junichi Sasaki)

SAITAMA -- Police investigating the murder of a 9-year-old elementary school boy here arrested his 32-year-old father on Sept. 19 on suspicion of abandoning the boy's body, law enforcers said.

An autopsy determined that the victim, Ryosuke Shindo, suffocated from pressure applied to his neck, with marks suggesting that he had been choked with some kind of rope. Investigators are probing the possibility the boy's body was hidden to delay his discovery.

Ryosuke was found in the meter box of a vacant apartment opposite his own home in Saitama's Minuma Ward, investigative sources told the Mainichi Shimbun. The boy had lived with his family on the second floor of the apartment complex. According to the prefectural government, which runs the housing complex, the meter box where his body was found measured about 1.8 meters high, 50 or 60 centimeters across and 30 to 40 centimeters in depth. It did not have a lock.

Investigative sources said all of the apartments in the complex have a meter box, but the one where Ryosuke was found belonged to a vacant apartment. Police say it would have been difficult for the boy to get into the box and shut it by himself.

Police had not obtained any witness reports recording the boy being attacked or seeking help.

(Japanese original by Ayako Hiramoto, Yuki Nakagawa and Takuya Suzuki, Saitama Bureau)

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