What happened to Lucie Blackman? Revisit the infamous case at the center of Netflix's latest true crime doc

For their latest true crime special, Netflix digs into what happened to Lucie Blackman in Tokyo all those years ago

What happened to Lucie Blackman? Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case
(Image credit: Netflix)

What happened to Lucie Blackman, an English expat in Tokyo? The answer still isn't clear, even 23 years later. 

Netflix's latest true crime documentary, Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case, hit the streamer on Wednesday, July 26. Filmmaker Hyoe Yamamoto decided to breathe new life into the decades-long mystery by interviewing Lucie's father, Tim Blackman, along with authorities and journalists who had been working on the British woman's case.

With an eerily coincidental storyline and timing to the alleged Gilgo Beach serial killer's arrest in July 2023, the project sheds light on every parent's worst nightmare. Here's what you need to know about the tragic string of events.

What happened to Lucie Blackman?

In 2000, 21-year-old flight attendant Lucie Blackman and her friend, Louise Phillips, uprooted themselves from the U.K. to Tokyo to begin anew. The move started off well, but a hostess job at Casablanca bar in Roppongi, Tokyo, ultimately led to a life cut short. 

While at Casablanca, she crossed paths with property developer Joji Obara. He had taken her out on a date the night she went missing. At the time, Obara denied any wrongdoing in her disappearance but did note that he had drinks with her at an apartment near Casablanca.  

"I was immediately thinking, 'Well, there must be some rational explanation, some reason why she's not been able to get in touch," Tim Blackman revealed in the doc. "There were three or four more calls and I knew that something had gone wrong. That feeling of complete blind panic just crashes in on you." 

It wasn't until seven months later that Blackman's mutilated body had been discovered in a ditch, quite close to one of Obara's properties. Further investigation into the property developer led authorities to discover that he had drugged and raped other women, and he was guilty of the manslaughter of the Australian model, Carita Ridgway.

It wasn't until 2007 that he was charged for his wrongdoings, but not for the crimes against Blackman. Per the BBC: "The judge said there was no proof Obara alone was responsible for the death of Miss Blackman. It was clear the victim and the accused were together before she vanished and then died but he said this was not enough to secure a conviction."

A year later, he was convinced of the abduction, dismemberment and disposal of Blackman's remains. In 2009, he attempted to appeal his life sentence, which was denied. The now 70-year-old is in jail. But as far as specifics regarding Blackman's killing—and why he decided to prey on this young woman—the facts are still unknown. 

“Why Lucie was murdered when all of these other women woke up and went on with their lives, still remains a mystery today,” Yamamoto told the Boston Herald.  “Something clearly happened.”

Watch the 'Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case' trailer

Missing: The Lucie Blackman Case is now streaming on Netflix. Check out other true crime documentaries on Netflix

Danielle Valente
Digital News Writer

Need a TV show recommendation? Maybe a few decor tips? Danielle, a digital news writer at Future, has you covered. Her work appears throughout the company’s lifestyle brands, including My Imperfect Life, Real Homes, and woman&home. Mainly, her time is spent at My Imperfect Life, where she’s attuned to the latest entertainment trends and dating advice for Gen Z.

Before her time at Future, Danielle was the editor of Time Out New York Kids, where she got to experience the best of the city from the point of view of its littlest residents. Before that, she was a news editor at Elite Daily. Her work has also appeared in Domino, Chowhound, and amNewYork, to name a few. 

When Danielle’s not writing, you can find her testing out a new recipe, reading a book (suggestions always welcome), or rearranging the furniture in her apartment…again.