Cult boss likely denied aid to boy

Mainichi Shimbun, Tuesday, January 25, 2000

MIYAZAKI - The leader of a commune where the mummified bodies of two boys were found here last week may have instructed a follower to deny medical attention to a boy who became seriously ill in January 1998, police sources said Monday.

Police said that the commune, referred to as the Kaeda Cram School, called an ambulance on Jan. 13 for a 6-year-old boy whom police believe was one of those found dead last week. The boy had begun convulsing due to a high fever.

Once the paramedics arrived, however, the commune refused to hand over the boy so that he could be sent to a hospital. Police said Junichiro Higashi, the 55-year-old head of the commune, may have been responsible for the refusal, which possibly resulted in the boy's death.

Higashi was arrested last week on suspicion of abandoning the two bodies. When the ambulance arrived to take the boy to a hospital, a woman from the commune came out and told paramedics that his fever had gone down. She then said that they'd take the boy to a hospital themselves. The paramedics, believing the woman to be the boy's mother, left the commune.

The boy, who was the second son of a 35-year-old man from Tokyo's Setagaya-ku, died later that month, police said. He apparently had been entrusted to the commune because of a kidney ailment. At the time of the incident, someone from the commune had called the father a little after midnight saying, "Your son's condition has become very bad." The call was made at nearly the same time that the ambulance was dispatched for the 6-year-old.

Investigators said Higashi has admitted that the boy died, but said, "I was sending [the body] energy in order to revive it."

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