In March 2018, over four hundred people gathered to try and watch the trial of Kabu Terauchi, a man arrested for kidnapping a young girl for approximately two years.
On March 10, 2014, Kabu Terauchi acted on a plan he’d been working on for a while, driving to the Saitama Prefecture in Japan to kidnap 13-year-old Ana Saito (a Jane Doe type name to protect the victim’s identity).
Kabu Terauchi kept a close watch on Ana Saito in the two years that followed. Despite Kabu Terauchi’s carelessness in leaving a door or window occasionally unlocked, she only tried to escape a few times, inevitably returning to the apartment where she was held captive. Kabu Terauchi would even move from Chiba to Tokyo during those two years, with no neighbors ever realizing anything was wrong.
Kabu Terauchi was an intelligent student from a well-off family. Although the defense would later argue that Kabu Terauchi was bullied as a child and isolated from the world, he was able to get his pilot license, graduate from Chiba University, and hold multiple jobs without ever raising concern.
His defense team would point out that given the isolation Kabu Terauchi often endured, he wanted to observe people who were separated from society, like him. Ultimately, this observational desire would lead to him kidnapping Ana Saito.
Kabu Terauchi’s abduction of Ana Saito was well planned; he researched different towns, trying to find the most isolated place to attempt a kidnapping. But despite the planning that went into the location, Kabu Terauchi seemed to choose his target randomly, kidnapping Ana Saito as she was returning home from school.
According to the prosecution, Kabu Terauchi convinced Ana Saito to get into his car by lying to her and trying to turn the young girl against her parents. He painted a story of Ana Saito’s parents wanting to sell her organs, threatening her into coming with him, and pretending to save her.
Kabu Terauchi frequently used this sort of manipulation to keep Ana Saito feeling truly isolated from the world while locked in his apartment. Kabu Terauchi distorted reality to make his apartment seem like a safe place, where Ana Saito was kept well fed and even given toys to play with. Although Kabu Terauchi kept a close watch on her, constantly observing her, Ana Saito was never physically abused or harmed.
Kabu Terauchi’s attempts to make Ana Saito feel isolated and discarded by her family and friends were successful, especially after Ana Saito first tried to escape.
A few times during the two years, Kabu Terauchi would accidentally leave a door or window unlocked while he went to school or work, and Ana Saito was able to try to escape her kidnapper. Unfortunately, the first time the girl tried to escape, she pleaded for help from a mother who was too preoccupied with her own young child to take Ana Saito seriously. The girl also tried to wave down an anti-crime patrol car which drove off without seeing her.
Ana Saito returned to the apartment after the two failed attempts, only to try and escape again, before returning to the apartment after being ignored by an older woman.
Aside from the mental manipulation, prosecutors also accused Kabu Terauchi of lacing Ana Saito’s food with a drug made from morning glory seeds which can cause hallucinations. This was likely another reason Ana Saito was unsuccessful in trying to escape her kidnapper.
During these two years, the police and Ana Saito’s family desperately searched for the young girl. At first, her disappearance seemed to be an instance of a child running away from her family, possibly out of anger, given a letter in Ana Saito’s handwriting, “I want to take a break from school and home. Don’t find me.”
Nine days after Ana Saito’s disappearance, her parents would receive another letter, “I’m doing fine. I’m sorry for causing a lot of stress. Don’t find me.”
The police quickly ruled out the possibility of Ana Saito having run away since all of her possessions were still in the house. If she had run away, presumably, she would have taken at least clothes or a toothbrush with her.
Despite not having any significant leads, her family kept looking for Ana Saito over the two years. Her middle school class even included her in their graduation ceremony, hoping she was still alive.
Because of the continued search, Ana Saito regained hope that her family had not forgotten about her since there were multiple missing posters, flyers, and articles in the newspaper that she eventually was able to see. So on March 27, 2016, she managed to escape again, this time with some money she had saved, and called her parents with a pay phone.
Although relieved to hear from her daughter, her mother told her to hang up and immediately call the police so she could be rescued. Ana Saito did as instructed and was saved and reunited with her family.
The next day, Kabu Terauchi was found injured after he harmed himself. Although he was admitted to the hospital for treatment, he was then arrested by police.
When the case first went to trial, it was ultimately delayed because of Kabu Terauchi’s erratic behavior, like how he identified himself as “a fairy from the forest.”
When the case finally continued, Kabu Teruachi referred to Ana Saito, who was having trouble readjusting to society after the trauma she endured, as an “examination subject.”
While Ana Saito’s mother understandably wanted Kabu Teruachi “to stay in jail for a lifetime,” he was initially sentenced to nine years in prison. The defense thought the sentence should be lessened due to Kabu Teruachi’s apparent mental health struggles. At the same time, the prosecution argued that it wasn’t severe enough for the damage he had done to Ana Saito. There was later an appeal hearing where his sentence was increased to 12 years in prison.