Family of dead girl thanks search team, well-wishers

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Investigators search the area where Saya Minami’s shoes were found near the Edo River in Nagareyama, Chiba Prefecture, on Sept. 24.

CHIBA — The family of Saya Minami, a 7-year-old girl whose body was recently found in a river, has expressed gratitude to the people who had been involved in search efforts since she went missing on Sept. 23.

Her family released a statement Friday, describing the elementary school student from Matsudo, Chiba Prefecture, as “a truly lovely girl with pure innocence.”

The family members expressed their deep regret and sorrow, saying: “She had not been in elementary school for more than half a year … There are many things she had not seen yet.”

They also extended their gratitude to people who had searched for her and prayed for her safety. “We were truly supported,” they said in the statement.

Saya went missing after going to a park near her home. Her body was discovered in a tributary of the Edo River in Ichikawa, Chiba Prefecture, on Tuesday. The Chiba prefectural police are looking into the possibility that the first grader may have fallen into the river.