Running from Justice: Tatsuya Ichihashi & The Lindsay Hawker Tragedy

How far would you go for your freedom? Have you ever truly thought about it? 

Do you know how far you would be willing to go if things got out of hand and you felt trapped? 

What would you be willing to do to escape? 

For almost five years, a Japanese man named Tatsuya Ichihashi, became one of the most wanted men – not only in Japan, but in the entire world. 

The police, the media, and even the Yakuza, the Japanese mafia itself pursued him relentlessly in a cat-and-mouse game that lasted several years while Tatsuya did the impossible to escape…

He even went so far as to mutilate his own face with a pair of scissors…

Welcome to Crime Scene Confidential. In this documentary, we’ll cover the case of Tatsuya Ichihashi, the murderer who mutilated his own face to hide from the world.

Before and After photos of Tatsuya Ichihashi

INTRODUCTION

Japan is known around the world as one of the safest and most stable countries on the planet. 

Also known as the Land of the Rising Sun, Japan is not only a world economic power but also has one of the lowest crime rates on the planet, with 0.2 murders per 100,000 people per year, an absurdly low number compared to countries like the United States with 5.3 or the United Kingdom with 1.2.

It is not uncommon to see women and children taking the subway or walking at any given time, including at night, and their police officers are usually unarmed. 

But as the following story shows, even in the safest and most stable place in the world, danger can be lurking just around the corner…

LINDSAY HAWKER’S EARLY YEARS

Although most of this story takes place in Japan, it all began in Coventry, England, a city located in the most central and interesting part of the United Kingdom. It was in this city that Lindsay Ann Hawker, the victim of this story, was born on December 30, 1984.

Lindsay Hawker, daughter of Bill and Julia Hawker, had two sisters – Louise and Lisa. The girls had a happy and fulfilled childhood. 

Lindsay Hawker and her parents

Lindsay was very popular and well-liked by her close circle of friends and relatives. She had promising potential and a bright and successful future awaiting her when she returned home.

Lindsay was educated at the prestigious King Henry VIII School, a leading private school in Coventry, and in 2006, at the age of 22, she graduated with honors from the prestigious University of Leeds with a degree in Biology. 

With a bright future ahead of her, friends who loved her, a boyfriend who loved her deeply, a family willing to support her in whatever she needed, and plans to continue studying, Lindsay decided she deserved some time to herself. 

So she took a gap year to enjoy, explore and see the world before returning to focus fully on her studies. ….

At just 22 years old and with the whole world to see, Lindsay Hawker decided that her destination would be Japan, the so-called Land of the Rising Sun.

The young woman applied to NOVA, a reputable and exceptional Japanese English language academy, where Lindsay was offered a position as a teacher in one of the most exclusive educational institutions in the world, and it was there that her bright future was to be tragically, unfortunately, and unexpectedly cut short…

A MAGICAL TRIP

Once in Japan, Lindsay was fascinated by the bright and modern Japanese capital, where she worked and excelled as well as she had in England during her first days in Tokyo.

Lindsay was assigned to Chiba, the capital of the prefecture of the same name, east of the capital, where she joined two other teachers from different academies with whom she quickly became friends. 

The technological, modern, and vibrant Japanese capital, with its myriad of shopping malls, tall buildings, temples, parks, bars, and entertainment of all kinds, deeply captivated the young Lindsay, who at the same time kept in regular contact with her family and friends in England.

However, after six months in one of the most impressive and attractive cities in the world, Lindsay’s destiny changed forever when she met a strange and mysterious man: Tatsuya Ichihashi.

HER FIRST ENCOUNTER WITH THE KILLER

It was early March 2007 when Lindsay Hawker, returning home after a rewarding day at work, stepped off the subway and hurried to remove the lock from her bicycle.

At that moment, the young British woman was accosted by a man who approached her from behind and said in a very strange way, “You are my English teacher.”

Lindsay Hawker, Tatsuya Ichihashi's victim

Lindsay was very confused by the situation. The man was acting very strangely and did not look remotely similar to any of Lindsay’s students.

Probably assuming it was some sort of confusion or misunderstanding, she decided to ignore him, get on her bike, and start pedalling. However, the strange man continued to follow her. 

Worried, Lindsay began to pedal harder and harder, but the man began to jog. She pedaled even faster this time, but the man picked up the pace again and ran after her until he caught up with her.

Lindsay, realizing that she had no way of outrunning him and was probably afraid that she would run over someone or get into an accident, slowed down, allowed the stranger to come up behind her, and struck up a conversation.

The man, who only a few minutes before had “recognized” her as his English teacher, began to ask her a thousand questions about her, such as her name, her age, where she worked, where she was from, and although Lindsay only answered with short responses and ended the conversation, she continued pedalling at a pace that would make anyone get tired and walk away. 

But the man continued to follow her all the way home.

Outside the apartment, as she was parking her bike, the man asked Lindsay if she would be willing to tutor him in English at a coffee shop over the weekend because she needed help with the language.

Lindsay politely declined. She had planned to travel and work at the same time, but her schedule was already pretty tight with the classes she was teaching at NOVA. t

The rest of her time was meant to be spent having fun and enjoying the city.

The man was disappointed, but to Lindsay’s relief, he agreed to herresponse, but not before making one last request.

He was thirsty and asked her to give him a glass of water. It didn’t seem that strange, considering that he had practically chased her from the subway station to her house without taking a break.

But Lindsay didn’t want to let this guy into her apartment; it was a weird thing for a single female and it made her very uncomfortable. 

However, she eventually agreed and allowed him to enter her apartment, mainly out of fear that if she ran into him again things could be more awkward or even violent – but also to take advantage of the fact that her two roommates could see him.

This way, they would be able to recognize him if something happened, and the man would realize that Lindsay did not live alone and that she was with someone else most of the time…

THE PORTRAIT

Once inside the apartment, the stranger, who introduced himself as Tatsuya Ichihashi, was quite polite and friendly. While sipping his glass of water, he repeated his offer, this time with a price. 

Tatsuya offered to pay Lindsay about 3,500 yen per hour for lessons, which was about $32 per hour. He also assured her that they would only see each other for an hour or two on weekends and that their meetings would be strictly limited to just English lessons.

Lindsay considered the offer. Although her job as an English teacher at NOVA was really helping her get by in Tokyo, this was good money that would come in handy. 

It would only be for a few hours, and her roommates had already seen the man’s face. Since Lindsay suspected that Tatsuya wouldn’t dare go too far with her, she accepted the offer, and they agreed to meet at a nearby cafe on the weekend.

Tatsuya was grateful for the offer, but before he left, he took a pen from his back pocket, grabbed a piece of paper, and started scribbling. The paper contained a sketched portrait of Lindsay, along with Tatsuya’s full name, email, and phone number.

Tatsuya Ichihashi's sketch of Lindsay Hawker

ABOUT TATSUYA ICHIHASHI

Born on January 5, 1979, Tatsuya Ichihashi, like Lindsay, once had a bright and promising future ahead of him.

With his father being a successful doctor working at a hospital in Chiba and his mother being a professional dentist, Tatsuya’s early years were marked by a deep desire to follow in his family’s footsteps and embark on a successful career in medicine.

However, things would not turn out so well… 

When the time came, Tatsuya was unable to rise to the occasion. After failing spectacularly in his final exams and scoring too low to pursue a career in medicine, young Tatsuya opted to study horticulture at Chiba University, graduating in 2005 with reasonably good grades.

However, after seeing his desire to follow in his family’s footsteps thwarted, Tatsuya began to lose direction in his life. 

After graduation, he made no effort to find a job and simply survived on a pension of 100,000 yen per month, which at the time was about $600 or $760 per month, provided by his parents…

Later, Tatsuya’s condition would deteriorate more and more. He spent long hours at the gym every day, so he was in excellent physical shape, running about 25 kilometers per day, which makes it less surprising that he could keep up with Lindsay’s bike with such ease.

He was also becoming increasingly reclusive, withdrawn, and strange, and although he had no criminal record when he met Lindsay, he had assaulted a woman whose purse he had tried to steal.

The incident never went to court because Tatsuya’s father, most likely trying to protect the family’s image and reputation in a country like Japan where that is so important, met with the woman and paid her more than a million yen, almost $10,000, to let him go… 

SATURDAY, MARCH 24

The days passed quietly until the day of the first lesson arrived. Lindsay and Tatsuya met at a nearby coffee shop and were together for almost an hour. 

The security cameras in the shop caught them chatting, and although Lindsay appeared quite calm and comfortable on camera, she always backed away a bit whenever Tatsuya got too close.

Tatsuya Ichihashi in elevator

The lesson went fairly smooth, but when it was over, Tatsuya told Lindsay that he had accidentally left her money at home but that it was not a big deal…

He said that he lived only a half kilometer from the cafeteria and that if she was willing, she would just have to accompany him to his apartment, where she could just collect her money and leave when she wanted.

Lindsay, now a little calmer, probably because Tatsuya was not a stranger anymore, agreed, and they both took a taxi. Once outside Tatsuya’s apartment, Lindsay, who had to work later and was also a little short on time, asked the cab driver to wait for her downstairs.

She would be back in a few minutes. The driver agreed, and Tatsuya and Lindsay got in. But the girl never came back…

The taxi driver waited a little longer, but the minutes ticked by one by one, and only seven minutes later, without suspecting anything and without giving any importance to the girl’s long delay, the taxi driver left the place and quickly forgot about the incident.

He would be the last person, besides Tatsuya, to see Lindsay alive. ….

THE SEARCH FOR LINDSAY HAWKER 

That Saturday, Lindsay did not show up for work at NOVA, and even more concerning, she never returned to her apartment. 

Normally, Lindsay would be in regular contact with her family in England via Skype, phone calls, or email, but after that night, they received no messages or calls from her.

Lindsay Hawker with friends

Lindsay’s roommates, concerned about her unusual lateness, reported her missing that same night. 

However, Sunday passed without any news of the girl, and by Monday, Lindsay’s friends and co-workers in Japan were starting to get worried, so they again reported her disappearance to the police and contacted Lindsay’s relatives in England…

It wasn’t like her to miss work for two days in a row, and it had never taken her more than a day to return to the apartment. 

It was at this point that the police began to take Lindsay’s disappearance more seriously.

Lindsay’s roommates were the first to be questioned, and their statements, as well as the enigmatic sketch still in the apartment, led investigators to the first and only suspect in the case. 

Tatsuya Ichihashi.

A couple of police officers were sent to the apartment building where Tatsuya lived around 5:40 p.m., but regardless of their repetitive knocking, no one would answer the door. 

Thankfully, Tatsuya’s neighbors were home and were more than welcoming of the officers, allowing them to enter their house and look out from their balcony onto the balcony of Tatsuya’s house.

Once there, the officers noticed something strange. The inside of the house was dark, although they could hear noises that seemed to indicate that someone was inside. 

There was also a detachable bathtub on the balcony.

What would a bathtub be doing anywhere but in the bathroom?

The two police officers suspected that Lindsay might have been kidnapped there, so they called for backup. 

About an hour later, seven more officers arrived on the scene. 

The officers waited for several hours, looking for the right time to enter. Suddenly, the apartment door opened, and Tatsuya walked out. The officers rushed after him, but Tatsuya, still carrying a heavy suitcase, slipped through their hands and managed to escape… 

Since it was dark, at around 9:00 p.m., Tatsuya was easily able to hide – and from then on, became a ghost that was virtually untraceable…

But the worst was yet to come…

THE SAD FATE OF LINDSAY HAWKER

Although Tatsuya Ichihashi would disappear from the radar for almost half a decade, Lindsay Hawker’s body was found almost immediately. 

As soon as agents entered the house, they saw clear signs of a struggle, and Lindsay’s belongings were strewn throughout the room. 

Her naked body was bound and gagged with ties and scarves. She was discovered buried in the same bathtub the officers had seen on Tatsuya’s balcony. 

Lindsay Hawker and he sisters

From a distance, it was impossible to see, but when they got closer – the girl’s hand was sticking out of the tub. Her skin was covered with marks and bruises on her upper body, evidence of the prolonged abuse she had suffered before her death. 

She had been strangled. In addition to the mixture of sand and soil in which Lindsay was buried, there was also an active decomposition agent to help dissolve the girl’s body.

A few flowers rested on top of the tub.

The plan of Tatsuya, who was probably using his knowledge of horticultur for the first time, was that Lindsay’s body would serve as food for these plants and disappear into the ground.

But the strangest discovery was that Tatsuya had completely shaved Lindsay’s head. Numerous wigs were found in his apartment, leading to the assumption that Tatsuya was a trans-woman and had probably murdered Lindsay to use her hair as a wig…

A SHADOW IN JAPAN

The next day, the face of the man named Tatsuya Ichihashi became one of the most widely recognized images in the country. 

His face was displayed in every media imaginable at the time: television, newspapers, news, and even advertisements offering a reward to anyone willing to provide information or clues to his whereabouts. 

Modified photos of his face were circulated with wigs, makeup, or lipstick in case he was disguised as a woman, but none of this worked.

Photoshopped images of what Tatsuya Ichihashi might look like as a woman

Tatsuya turned out to be very good at going unnoticed, disappearing like another shadow in the night, and prolonging the search for weeks, months, and years…

THE HAWKER’S WRATH

Tatsuya’s skill proved to be so great that, as time went on, the Japanese police became frustrated and, even worse, gradually withdrew from the situation… 

This outraged Lindsay’s parents, who were hurt by the tragic and merciless death of their daughter and frustrated that her killer was still at large.

So they travelled all the way to Japan to try to get the country’s authorities to pay due attention to the case.

The girl’s parents did everything in their power to raise awareness, appearing in interviews and handing out flyers. 

Lindsay’s father, Bill Hawker, even went so far as to meet with some members of the Japanese mafia, the Yakuza, in a bar, giving them two bottles of whiskey before asking for their help in finding his daughter’s killer.

Soon the Japanese police became the center of attention and were criticized for the questionable efficiency of their officers, who, despite having nine agents guarding the scene, let the main suspect slip through their fingers like sand.

The conflicts were not limited to the victim’s relatives and the Japanese authorities, as the media soon became involved, and the case captured the world’s attention while leaving one question unanswered…

WHERE WAS TATSUYA ICHIHASHI?

For more than four and a half years, Tatsuya remained a nomad for all the islands of Japan he could visit. Islands such as Aomori, in the far north of the country, or Okinawa, at the other end, were points through which the killer passed during his maddening escape.

His safe havens even included massive concrete World War II bunkers on the country’s most remote and lonely islands, where he would retreat for long periods of time to avoid detection.

Osaka (Japan) Ferry port

Even a year after Lindsay’s death, between 2008 and 2009, Tatsuya was in Osaka, one of the country’s major port cities, almost 500 kilometers from where he killed his victim.

During this time, Tatsuya managed to keep a low profile, living in Internet cafes and working on construction sites, using the money he earned to survive as best as he could and saving most of it for the resource that would help him most in staying unnoticed: 

Plastic surgery….

Before getting surgery, however, Tatsuya did the unthinkable to avoid being found. With a pair of scissors, the killer removed a few moles on his face, used a thread to change the shape of his nose, and even cut off a piece of his lower lip, also with scissors.

HIS ARREST

The hunt for this fugitive eventually became an international issue. Japanese police and prosecutors became the object of shame and ridicule in the international community as one man continued to elude them. 

In the summer of 2009, exhausted by the hunt, authorities raised the reward for information leading to Tatsuya to more than 10 million yen, or about $100,000. This time, the killer’s luck was about to run out.

It was reported that Ichihashi may have undergone some cosmetic surgery to make himself unrecognizable, and with this information now in the air, a plastic surgeon contacted the police in October 2009 to say that he believed he had treated Tatsuya.

Incredibly, after going to such lengths to avoid being found, Tatsuya agreed to let the surgeon take a photo of his face before the operation, and the surgeon saved the images.

Tatsuya Ichihashi in handcuffs

The images went viral around the world; now it was known not only the face he had before killing Lindsay but also the new face Tatsuya had after the surgery. 

The images spread so quickly that the killer was soon recognized by one of his co-workers at the construction company where he now worked, who reported him. 

Tatsuya quickly went into hiding, preparing to flee again to one of the abandoned bunkers on the country’s remote islands. 

In November 2009, he fled to the Osaka ferry port, where, after three days of keeping a low profile to avoid detection, he was recognized by a port employee. 

Finally, the police approached the killer and asked for his name. Knowing that it was all over, he answered sparingly, “Yes, I am Tatsuya Ichihashi.  

THE CONVICTION OF TATSUYA ICHIHASHI

Eight months after his arrest, Tatsuya’s long-awaited trial began. He was first charged with abandoning a corpse and later, almost immediately, with rape and murder. 

The man’s guilt was so obvious that the media’s focus was not on whether he had committed the crimes he was accused of but on how he would be punished. 

Lindsay’s parents had called for the death penalty, but while the death penalty is allowed in Japan, it is reserved for criminals who have committed more than one murder. Ichihashi was sentenced to life in prison.

During the trial, he admitted that he had abused Lindsay but that he had not intended to kill her and had only done so in a desperate attempt to keep her quiet so that the neighbors would not hear her screams for help.

While in prison and in a desperate attempt to do some good, Tatsuya wrote a book called “Until I Was Arrested,” in which he recounted his experiences during the years he was on the run. 

Lindsay Hawker's family outside the court house

The killer tried to donate the royalties from his work, which sold millions of copies nationwide, to Lindsay’s family, but they indignantly refused ….. 

Nothing in the world could give them back what he had taken from them. Not for nothing, during the trial, the victim’s father said the following words, which speak for themselves:

“We have waited a long time for this day. We’ve waited four and a half years for justice. Lindsay loved Japan, and you have not failed her, Ichihashi. You have taken a precious life, destroyed an entire existence, and stolen countless memories.

FINAL THOUGHTS

The case of Tatsuya Ichihashi is a reminder that while Japan is known as one of the safest countries in the world, danger can lurk anywhere. 

The story of Lindsay Hawker and his tragic end makes us think about the importance of safety and caution at all times, even in places where we feel safe.

If this case intrigues you and you’d like to see more stories, don’t forget to subscribe to the channel for more content. And remember, always keep your eyes open and be aware of your surroundings.

Be sure to watch our full video!

THE HUNT FOR LINDSAY HAWKER’S KILLER, TATSUYA ICHIHASHI

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