I suppose desperate times bring desperate measures. This was certainly the case for Tatsuya Ichihashi, a Japanese man wanted for the murder of his English teacher, Lindsay Ann Hawker. During his 2 ½ years on the run from authorities, Ichihashi made numerous attempts to alter his appearance to avoid being captured.
Ichihashi reveals the gruesome details of his self-inflicted plastic surgery as well as the extended story of his 2 ½ years on the lam in his new book, which was written from prison. Apparently, his efforts weren’t enough to help him evade the authorities. I guess it’s unlikely that he’ll go onto a promising career in plastic surgery.
I’m also not so sure it was a good idea to release a book discussing the fact that he killed a woman before going to trial for these allegations. Maybe it would have been better to take the OJ Simpson approach – “Had I killed my English teacher and performed plastic surgery on myself, this is how I would have done it.” At least that way his admission of guilt would only be “hypothetical.”
The Great Escape
According to Ichihashi’s tell-all book, he evaded police officers who came to his apartment to question him about Hawker’s death. He shouldn’t have been surprised to see the police at his door, since her dead body was found in a bathtub on his balcony. But for some reason, he was still in the area when police arrived to ask him about the blood-soaked household fixture containing a corpse on his balcony.
In order to change his appearance, Ichihashi gave himself a back-alley nose job consisting of binding his nose with a thread and needle in order to make it look narrower. After wandering the streets of Tokyo for awhile, he decided to cut off part of his lower lip to make it look thinner. Unfortunately, he didn’t have the mettle to go through with it on the first try. The pain was just too intense. Several days later, he gave it a second shot in a public bathroom. This time, he got the job done. In order to hide the scars while his lip healed, he walked around town with a surgical mask.
Ichihashi’s journey then took him south, where he went on a pilgrimage to the sacred temples located on the island of Shikoku. He spent his time at the temples wishing Hawker would come back to life. Apparently, he got the idea of trying to think happy resurrection thoughts from a novel where this behavior actually accomplished its goal. Maybe he should have read Pet Cemetery instead. At least this way, his attempts to undo his dastardly deed would have provided Hawker with a proper burial.
Eventually, police offered a 10 million yen ($121,000) reward for any information leading to Ichihashi’s capture, and “Wanted” posters containing his picture were plastered all over Japan. One day, Ichihashi saw one of these posters and decided to slice two moles off of his cheek since they were clearly visible on the posters.
By this time, his paranoia was growing, and he began to believe his amateur plastic surgery efforts were not enough. He finally sought the help of a trained professional, undergoing two nose jobs at a plastic surgery clinic. The first procedure made his nose longer and narrower, while the second one raised the bridge of his nose.
Ironically, it was this trip to the plastic surgeon’s office which ultimately did him in. Staff at the clinic noticed traces of the removed moles on his cheek and found it strange. They took photos of these moles, which were eventually sent to the police.
News of Ichihashi’s plastic surgery was broadcast all over Japanese TV and newspapers. Terrified, he sought additional disguise enhancements. This time, he got a haircut and bought a fake mustache, beard, and sideburns from a novelty store. I guess it never occurred to him that such a silly costume would only make him stand out even more. But of course, that was the unintended result. Ichihashi was arrested shortly thereafter at a ferry terminal in Osaka, ending his 2 ½ years on the run. Rumor has it he looked like a Japanese Groucho Marx with his absurd novelty disguise.
What surprises me most is why he never left the country. He had enough savvy to evade capture for 2 ½ years. Why stay put in the Tokyo area where everyone was looking for him? Why not flee to China or Korea and get extensive plastic surgery there? It just doesn’t make sense. You put all that effort into escaping the law only to get busted by your plastic surgeon.
But then again, I’m pretty surprised he lasted as long as he did. It’s not like his self-performed plastic surgery would have fooled anyone. He pretty much looks the same in the before and after photos.