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Taxi driver, wife found murdered in trunk of their car in Higashi Village

Date Posted: 2005-08-20

Higashi Village is normally a quiet mountain village popularly known for its beautiful flowers and being Okinawa teen golf idol Ai Miyazato’s home town.

Today residents are in shock after the bodies of an elderly couple were discovered in the trunk of their car within the village limits.

According to Nago police, the bodies of a taxi driver and his wife were found in a vehicle hanging over the edge of a cliff on Monday, sparking a murder investigation

Investigators say that a local resident patrolling the area for illegally dumped trash discovered the car crashed on trees on a wooded slope in the area along Route 70, with the front of the vehicle hanging over the edge of a cliff. and reported it to the authorities.

Officers responding in the twilight conducted an initial search of the scene but deemed it too dangerous to investigate in darkness, and returned early Tuesday morning.

Inside the car, jammed along a tree two meters under the cliff, were the bodies of a man and a woman stuffed into the trunk. Gears changed and police immediately began a criminal investigation. Thoughts quickly turned to missing persons, and a report of an elderly central Okinawa couple popped up. One body was wrapped in a blanket and tied by duck tape, while the second body was tied with a water hose.

Police subsequently identified the victims as Nishihara Town taxi driver Shojiro Tamamura and his wife, Hideko.

At the couple’s home investigators found the remains of half-eaten food leading them to suspect they had been abducted and murdered. As the bodies had started to decompose, and police said it appeared several days had passed since their death. They say the bodies had been taken to the scene in the car, then the car pushed over the cliff. More than 50 police officers joined in the investigation, roping the area and tying the car so it couldn’t plunge farther down the side of the cliff. A crane was ultimately brought to lift the car away from the crime scene.

Subsequently, Okinawa Prefectural Police set up a special investigative office for the case. The bodies were taken to the hospital of the University of the Ryukyus for autopsies. According to initial results it appears that the woman was beaten to death. The cause of death of the husband could not be determined immediately and further tests are being conducted.

The police say that the couple had been missing since Friday. The wife had been operating a snack bar and was last seen in the company of one of her employees in a fast food restaurant in Ginowan City on Friday evening. They had reportedly called to the husband to join them at the restaurant. Saturday morning the husband failed to report to work at the taxi company.

Investigators have also established that there were a couple walking along Route 70 early Tuesday morning in the vicinity of the area where the couple’s car was discovered later.

A local resident gave the couple a ride to nearby Higashi Village Office where they took a bus to Nago. The resident later told investigators that he noticed that the man had only one slipper while investigators say that they had discovered one slipper at the crash site.

Investigators also say that is appears that the couple had engaged in several business ventures almost all of which had failed and appeared to have accumulated considerable amount of debts. Although investigators found \19,000 in cash in the pocket of the wife and an additional \2,000 in small change on the body of the husband, they strongly suspect that money trouble is the motive behind the killings. They have not ruled out that more than one person is involved.

The investigation into the case continues.

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