Hokkaido Murder Victim Believed to Have Been Threatened Over Photo; Assaulted During Escape Attempt

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Police officers look at the Ishikari River from a bridge in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, on May 20.

ASAHIKAWA, Hokkaido — One of the two women arrested on suspicion of murdering a 17-year-old high school girl in Rumoi, Hokkaido, is suspected to have extorted money from the victim for posting a photo on social media without her consent, it has been learned.

Riko Uchida, 21, and the other woman, both living in Asahikawa, Hokkaido, are alleged to have killed Runa Murayama by causing her to fall from a bridge over a river in the city. Murayama’s body was found downstream in late May.

The two suspects and two accomplices allegedly restrained Murayama in a car as they drove around the city. Uchida is alleged to have assaulted Murayama after she tried to escape when they stopped at a convenience store.

The photo Murayama posted on her social media account was one that had previously been posted on social media by a 16-year-old girl who is an acquaintance of Uchida, who was also in the photo, according to investigative sources. The 16-year-old girl was arrested on suspicion of unlawful confinement.

Uchida was reportedly told by the girl that the photo had been posted by Murayama, and Uchida threatened her via direct message and the phone call functions on the social media platform. On the night of April 18, Uchida allegedly forced Murayama to make an electronic payment to her.

After that, Murayama was called out to a roadside facility in Rumoi and locked in a car by four people: Uchida, the 16-year-old girl, a 19-year-old woman arrested over murder and other charges, and a 16-year-old boy arrested over unlawful confinement and other charges. When they stopped at a convenience store in Asahikawa while driving around the city, Murayama shouted. Uchida assaulted her and prevented her from running away, according to sources. Nearby security camera footage partially shows Uchida assaulting Murayama.

According to the Hokkaido prefectural police, Uchida and the 19-year-old woman allegedly caused Murayama to fall from the Kamui Ohashi bridge on the outskirts of Asahikawa into the Ishikari River, about 10 meters below, in the early hours of April 19. She died from drowning and her body was found downstream in late May and identified by DNA analysis and other information.

According to investigative sources, the 16-year-old girl and boy went home before the others headed for the bridge.