Partially skeletonized remains could be seen though rear windows.

On Wednesday evening, police officers responded to a reported theft at a roadside mini-mall in the Ubagayama neighborhood of Niigata City. It’s unclear if they found the culprit of the stolen property, but what they did discover was a dead body inside a car in the shopping center’s parking lot.

The deceased male could be seen lying in the backseat footwell of a compact kei-class car, and, adding to the shock, the body was partially skeletonized, indicating that a considerable amount of time had passed since the man’s death. However, while Niigata is far less developed than some other prefectural capital cities in Japan, the shopping center and its parking lot are still situated near a major road, as seen in the video below, and the shopping center itself sees plenty of customer traffic.

None of the store workers or facility maintenance staff have been able to recall when the car first appeared, but investigators believe it may have been sitting there for two and a half years. Police have been able to identify the owner of the car as a 50-something Niigata resident who was reported missing in November of 2019. Upon searching the vehicle, they discovered a wallet and other items which they were able to determine as belonging to the missing man, as well as a number of gas station receipts, with the most recent being for a gasoline purchase in October of 2019.

That would suggest that the car hasn’t moved since around the time the man was reported missing, though that may or may not match the timeframe for the man’s death, as police believe he may have been living out of the car for a period of time prior to his passing. Still, it suggests that the car was parked in the lot for more than 30 months without anyone bothering to report it, with the man being deceased for a long enough portion of that to begin decomposing. A cause of death has not yet been publicly confirmed.

▼ The parking lot entrance

Online commenters were startled at how long the body had gone unnoticed, especially since the car was registered to someone a missing person report had been filed for.

“How does this happen when the car belonged to someone who’d gone missing? How? Could the police not have found him sooner than this?”
“Some officers just got exposed for not doing their jobs.”
“If the car was parked there for two and a half years, it should have been noticeably deteriorating. Like, you can tell it hasn’t moved in way too long once you see the tires have gone flat.”
“Didn’t any of the workers or customers ever think ‘Ya know, that car’s always parked in the exact same spot’?”
“That sort of thing happens in rural parking lots sometimes. You come across cars that have been parked in the same spot forever and aren’t getting driven, but since the parking lots are big and have plenty of space, as long as they’re not causing a problem, the store owners don’t really make a fuss about it.”

Regarding the last comment, while parking lots in urban areas in Japan usually have gates, attendants, and fees, farther outside the city centers you’ll find lots that are free to park in and have no gate or guard posted. That was the case at the shopping center where the body was found, and one worker speculated that everyone might just have thought the car belonged to someone who was taking advantage of a free space to park overnight without realizing it hadn’t moved in years.

Source: Nitele News, FNN Prime Online, YouTube/日テレNEWS
Top image: Pakutaso
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