Where is Joji Obara now? The killer from The Lucie Blackman Case

The harrowing case of a British tourist who went missing in Japan is the focus of a Netflix documentary, and viewers want to know what happened to killer Joji Obara

A close up, grainy black and white photo of Joji Obara
(Image credit: Alamy)

Netflix's true crime documentary Missing: The Case of Lucie Blackman has left viewers wondering where Joji Obara is now.

On July 1 2000, British 21-year-old Lucie Blackman went missing in Tokyo, leading to a highly publicised international investigation. At the time of her death, she was working at a nightclub in the Japanese city called Casablanca as a hostess, where part of the job required going on paid dates with customers. Following the police investigation and an appeal trial, Joji Obara was found guilty of her murder, and viewers of the new Netflix documentary Missing: The Case of Lucie Blackman want to know where he is now.

The release is the latest in a string of popular true crime documentaries that have viewers wondering what happened to the culprit, including The Lady of Silence, which recently had many wondering where Juana Bazzara is now. Meanwhile, the streamer's new dramatisation Griselda has others wondering what happened to Griselda's husbands, the men who were brave enough to get close to the drug lord, and what happened to Griselda's sons too.

Where is Joji Obara now?

Joji Obara is believed to be serving a life sentence in prison. In 2012, The Japan Times reported that The Supreme Court had rejected his appeal, therefore sustaining his life sentence.

Obara was first charged with Blackman's murder in 2000 and his trial began on July 4, 2001, and in April 2007 he was found guilty of multiple rape charges and manslaughter. He was acquitted of Lucie's rape and murder due to lack of evidence, however he was found guilty of the manslaughter of Australian model, Carita Ridgway, who he killed in 1992 by drugging her with chloroform.

A woman holding up a portriat of Carita Ridgeway at a press conference

(Image credit: Getty Images)

Following criticism around Lucie Blackman's case due to forensic evidence not being heard in the first trial, an appeal trial was held in March 2008 at the Tokyo High Court. In December of that same year, the court found Obara guilty of the abduction, dismemberment, and disposal of Lucie Blackman's body. 

Who is Joji Obara?

Joji Obara is a convicted rapist and murderer. He was born in Osaka, Japan, in 1952 and came from a wealthy family, he went to a private school before graduating from university.

Obara went on to invest in real estate, which led to him to reportedly own assets worth an estimated $38 million. However, the 1990s recession caused him to lose his fortune. His business then reportedly became a money laundering front.

What did Joji Obara do?

Joji Obara was a serial rapist with an estimated 400 victims. His victims included British national Lucie Blackman and Australian model Carita Ridgway, both of whom he murdered. Evidence in his trial included approximately 400 videos he shot himself, which showed him engaged in date rape.

Lucie had previously worked as a flight attendant for British Airways, before deciding to spend a year in Tokyo with a friend. She worked as a hostess at a nightclub called Casablanca and on July 1 2000 she went on a paid date with a customer. 

After failing to return her friend's calls following the date, Lucie's family flew to Tokyo to start a highly publicised campaign to find her.

Despite his conviction, Obara has maintained his innocence, claiming the drugs Lucie had consumed were voluntarily self-administered.

Was Lucie Blackman ever found?

Lucy Blackman's body was found in February 2001, seven months after she had gone missing. Her body had been dismembered and her head encased in concrete. She was found in a seaside cave in Miura, Kanagawa, about 50km outside of Tokyo and a few hundred meters from one of Joji Obara's properties. 

However, Lucie's body was badly decomposed, making it difficult to find reliable evidence as to what happened to her and link Obara to the crime. In the appeal trial in 2008, Obara was found guilty of the abduction, dismemberment and disposal of Lucie's body, but the court couldn’t find enough evidence to convict him of her murder.

A photo from inside the cave where Lucie Blackman was found, showing bunches of flowers and two figures looking in

(Image credit: Netflix)

How was Joji Obara caught?

As a result of the publicity surrounding the Lucie Blackman case, three women came forward to describe waking up sore and sick in Joji Obara's bed, with no memory of the night before. Several of them had reported him to local police, but were ignored.

In addition, the police began to make connections between cases involving a man calling himself Nishita and Joji Obara, who was using the name as an alias.

He was charged in October 2000 with the crimes against Lucie and Carita Ridgeway, as well as with raping eight other women.

After the verdict in the appeal trial, Lucie Blackman's mother said: "This has been a harrowing ordeal, not just for today, but for over eight years. But at last, we have two guilty verdicts and a life sentence. Today, truth and honour have prevailed, not only for Lucie, but for all victims of violent sexual crime."

Lucie's father, Tim, who had fought tirelessly for justice and lodged the appeal against the first trial, told the Times: "It is fantastic, and completely unexpected, and no less than Lucie deserves. It sounds churlish to say it's a pity that this didn't happen years ago, because it's been such a long haul, such a merciless torture. But for the police and prosecutors to get him like this is a great achievement."

If you're looking for the details behind more true crime documentaries, we've explained where Luke Deeley is now, from ITV's Code Blue: The Killing of June Fox-Roberts, as well as where Robert Black is now, following a new Channel 5 documentary. Elsewhere on Netflix, many have questions following popular drama Painkiller, and viewers want to know where Richard Sackler is now.

Ellie Hutchings
Family News Editor

Ellie is GoodtoKnow’s Family News Editor and covers all the latest trends in the parenting world - from relationship advice and baby names to wellbeing and self-care ideas for busy mums. Ellie is also an NCTJ-qualified journalist and has a distinction in MA Magazine Journalism from Nottingham Trent University and a first-class degree in Journalism from Cardiff University. Previously, Ellie has worked with BBC Good Food, The Big Issue, and the Nottingham Post, as well as freelancing as an arts and entertainment writer alongside her studies. When she’s not got her nose in a book, you’ll probably find Ellie jogging around her local park, indulging in an insta-worthy restaurant, or watching Netflix’s newest true crime documentary.