The father and boyfriend of a young Warwickshire teacher who was found dead in a bath full of sand have arrived in Tokyo to officially identify her body.
Lindsay Ann Hawker, 22, from Brandon, near Coventry, had been teaching English in Japan for the past five months. Police in Japan have issued an arrest warrant for 28-year-old Japanese man Tatsuya Ichihachi.
In a short statement last night, Miss Hawker’s family said her father, Bill Hawker, and boyfriend, Ryan Garside, were "extremely distressed" but had travelled to Tokyo to identify her body. The family also said the "suspect" was not known to Miss Hawker.
Their statement said: "Lindsay has been teaching English in Japan since October 2006. Her father (Bill Hawker) and long-term boyfriend (Ryan Garside), although extremely distressed, left the UK to travel to Tokyo to officially identify Lindsay.
"The family would like to emphasise that the suspect was unknown to Lindsay."
The family appealed for privacy "at this distressing time".
At Miss Hawker’s family home in Warwickshire, friends and well-wishers - many in tears - have been delivering flowers and tributes since her death was announced.
Her family have been too distraught to speak, but they made their feelings known through the police.
Chief Inspector Dale Pritchard, of Warwickshire Police, said: "They are in a terrible position, one in which no-one would ever want to be.
"They just want to be left alone to manage their grief in private."
Miss Hawker graduated less than a year ago from Leeds University and was teaching English at Koiwa school in Tokyo.
She was reported missing on Monday by the Nova language school, where she worked.
She had apparently failed to answer her mobile phone when her British flatmate tried to call.
As part of their inquiries, police visited the flat of Ichihachi - previously described as an acquaintance of Miss Hawker’s - in Ichikawa, just east of Tokyo, and made the grim discovery.
Police official Masaru Hiratsu said the body was found late on Monday night on the balcony of the flat and an arrest warrant was issued for the man.
The Kyodo News Agency reported that her handbag and identification were found at the flat.
A Foreign Office spokeswoman said: "We can confirm that the body of a British national was found in an apartment in the Chiba district of Tokyo.
"Next of kin have been informed and we are in close contact with relatives.
"Japanese police investigations are ongoing and they are keeping the British Embassy fully informed of any developments."
A neighbour near Miss Hawker’s family home said: "It’s terrible news. She was a lovely girl, she once helped me find my cat."
Miss Hawker attended King Henry VIII’s School in Coventry where she was fondly remembered by headteacher George Fisher.
"I knew Lindsay well," he said. "She was a very popular student and the school and staff are devastated.
"I have been giving the news to staff who taught her."
Mr Fisher said there were no plans to close the school but staff and pupils would find a way of remembering Miss Hawker, who left in 2003.
From there she went to Leeds University, graduating in 2006.
A spokeswoman from the Nova language school in London said Miss Hawker started teaching in Japan at the end of October last year.
"Lindsay took her job very seriously and put every effort into it," the spokeswoman said.
"She was trying very hard to get used to Japan. We are very sorry that this incident has taken place."
The spokeswoman said the company was fully co-operating with police inquiries.
Miss Hawker had posted numerous messages to Mr Garside, who is from Durham, on the Facebook internet site during her stay in Japan.
The last was posted on March 20, mentioning that a man had followed her home.
In the final line, she wrote: "Love u lots dont worry abt the gut (guy) who chased me home, its jus crazy Japan. miss u xxx."