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West Japan boy released from protective custody likely killed by mom in murder-suicide

The Shimane Prefectural Police headquarters, is seen in the city of Matsue in this Feb. 21, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Shu Suzuki)

YASUGI, Shimane -- A boy was found dead and a woman believed to be his mother was found unconscious at an apartment here in western Japan on Dec. 2 in what is suspected to be a murder and suicide attempt, police said.

They are believed to be a 10-year-old boy, who recently returned home from temporary protective custody, and his mother in her 40s who were living in the apartment in the city of Yasugi, Shimane Prefecture. Yasugi Police Station is investigating the case on the assumption that it is likely a murder-suicide carried out by the mother.

According to the police station, a city official visited the apartment on the morning of Dec. 2 after receiving a report that the boy had not attended school that day.

The city official took a look inside the home from a mail slot in the front door and saw blood in the room. They then called the police, who found the boy and the woman around 11:55 a.m.

The boy was confirmed dead at the scene and the woman was taken to a hospital, but is unconscious and in a critical condition.

The Shimane Prefecture Chuo child consultation center said the boy had a father who has been hospitalized since August. The Yasugi Municipal Government obtained information that the boy had been beaten by his mother and reported to the center on Sept. 10 that he was subjected to suspected physical abuse and neglect.

Though the boy did not have any injuries or scars, the center found out that he had not been attending school for a certain period and took him into temporary protective custody the following day. He was returned to his home on Nov. 25 after preparations were made to support the family at home.

"The mother appeared calm. I believe we made the correct decision (to return the boy home) but it's regretful that we could not foresee this result," said the head of the child consultation center during a press conference at the Shimane Prefectural Government building.

(Japanese original by Shu Suzuki and Aoi Maeda, Matsue Bureau; Nobuhiro Yokoi, Yonago Local Bureau; and Yongho Lee, Fukuyama Bureau)

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