Warning: This article contains graphic descriptions of violence and child abuse some readers may find disturbing.
Police in Japan have issued new arrest warrants on suspicion of assault and confinement of a 5-year-old boy for three people who were previously arrested after his body was found under their house in Saitama Prefecture in March.
Chika Kakimoto, the boy’s 30-year-old mother, and her unemployed roommates Hiroki Niwa, 34, and Yoko Ishii, 54, allegedly tortured the boy, named Ayumu, leading up to his death this year.
In an incident that took place on Jan. 31 last year, the three reportedly placed Ayumu inside a rainwater tank, which they knocked over and hit with their hands.
The three are also accused of beating Ayumu and hanging him upside down before confining him in a cat cage for more than two hours on May 29 that same year.
The owner of a restaurant that the three suspects and the boy had visited several times was convinced Ayuma was being abused and alerted city officials. The owner said they witnessed Niwa punishing Ayumu harshly by making him sit on his heels for about two hours without eating. When Kakimoto was asked about the treatment, she said it was only to discipline her child.
The municipal government initially concluded there were no signs of child abuse after consulting a local child consultation center and the boy’s nursery school, who claimed that Ayuma had a good relationship with his mother and did not have any signs of bruises on his body.
Ayuma’s body was eventually discovered beneath the floorboards of their house on March 6 this year after city officials reported concerns to police that the child had not been seen in school for about two months and had not moved to Izumi, as his mother claimed in January.
Officers then arrested the three in March on suspicion of abandoning the boy’s body under their floor, leading them to admit to digging a hole to bury Ayuma.
The Saitama Prefectural Police have not revealed how they have pleaded to the more recent assault and confinement charges.