What Happened to Lucie Blackman? Inside the True Story


Jul. 27 2023, Published 11:52 a.m. ET

Lucie Blackman looking at the camera.
Source: Netflix

The Gist:

  • 21-year-old Lucie Blackman went missing from her job at a bar in Tokyo on July 1, 2000.
  • Lucie's body was found seven months after her disappearance, and she had been raped and murdered.
  • A Korean-Japanese property developer named Joji Obara was found guilty of abducting Lucie, as well as dismembering and disposing of the body afterward

The documentaries on Netflix have been fodder for true crime fanatics who are rediscovering a number of cases that garnered massive attention at the time. The most recent of these is Missing: The Lucie Blackman Story, which recounts the events of a case from 2000 in which two 21-year-old friends from the U.K. moved to Tokyo for a gap year.

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Just a month after they arrived, though, one of them, Lucie Blackman, went missing. Now, many want to know the details of what happened to Lucie.

What happened to Lucie Blackman?

Lucie moved to Tokyo in May of 2000, and she and her friend Louise Phillips got jobs at hostesses at Casablanca bar in Roppongi, Tokyo. Hostesses at the bar are encouraged to be friendly with clients and get them to drink more, and occasionally they're asked to go on dates with clients. Lucie disappeared following one of these dates, and Louise received a call suggesting that Lucie had joined a cult and would not be seen again.

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Lucie Blackman looking to her right.
Source: Netflix

Louise raised the alarm, and her parents flew out to figure out what had happened to her. Japanese police eventually opened an investigation into her disappearance after initially insisting that Lucie had probably just run off with a new boyfriend.

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Was Lucie Blackman ever found?

After pursuing several dead-end leads, including a fake note from Lucie and a businessman who turned up dead, police arrived on the name of Joji Obara, a Korean-Japanese property developer. Lucie's body was found seven months after her disappearance, and she had been raped and murdered.

Lucie's case caught a serial abuser.

Thanks to the publicity surrounding Lucie's case, three other women came forward to say that had woken up sore and bruised in Joji Obara's bed with no memory of the night before. They also said they had reported these incidents to local authorities at the time, but their reports were ignored.

These accusations were part of a mountain of evidence that led police to charge him with Lucie's murder, as well as with assaulting eight other women and the manslaughter of another woman.

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Source: Twitter/@netflix

In Obara's eventual trial, he was convicted of raping nine women but was found not guilty of Lucie's murder, in part because prosecutors could provide no forensic evidence that linked Obara to Lucie.

in spite of being found not guilty in Lucie's case, Obara was nonetheless sentenced to life in prison, a sentence that he is still serving to this day.

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During an appeal trial, Obara was found guilty of abducting Lucie, as well as dismembering and disposing of the body afterward. His appeals for release have been denied, and he has served in prison since 2008, after the verdict came down. The trial, which began in 2002, had lasted a total of five years.

Although Lucie's family did not receive total vindication through the trial, and it's possible that the person who actually killed Lucie is still out there, they at least know that Obara is behind bars, and seems very unlikely to ever be released.

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