A BRITISH woman at the centre of a bizarre Japanese murder investigation is reported to have sent a chilling message to her North-East boyfriend.

Lindsay Ann Hawker was found dead in a bath full of sand on the balcony of a Japanese flat was a dedicated English teacher who had only been in the country for five months, her company said today.

Ryan Garside, from Durham, is listed as Lindsay's boyfriend on the online social network service Facebook - where she had posted numerous messages to him during her stay in Japan.

The last was posted on March 20 mentioning that a man had followed her home.

In the final line, she wrote: ''Love u lots dont worry abt the gut (guy) who chased me home, its jus crazy Japan. miss u xxx.'' Miss Hawker graduated less than a year ago from Leeds University and was teaching English in Tokyo.

The 22-year-old, from Brandon near Coventry, was reported missing on Monday by the Nova language school, where she worked.

She had apparently failed to answer her mobile phone when her British flatmate tried to call.

As part of their inquiries, police visited the flat of a 28-year-old Japanese man, Tatsuya Ichihashi - described as an acquaintance of Miss Hawker's - in Ichikawa, just east of Tokyo, and made the grim discovery.

Police have issued a warrant for his arrest.

It is understood that her entire body was covered in the sand, apart from one hand.

At Miss Hawker's family home in Warwickshire, a steady stream of friends and wellwishers brought flowers to the door.

Many wept as they left the substantial detached property.

Her family were too distraught to speak, but they made their feelings known through the police.

Chief Inspector Dale Pritchard, of Warwickshire Police, said: "They are in a terrible position, one in which no one would ever want to be.

"They just want to be left alone to manage their grief in private."

A neighbour near the family home paid tribute to the dead teacher, saying: "It's terrible news. She was a lovely girl, she once helped me find my cat."

Miss Hawker attended King Henry VIII's School in Coventry. Headteacher George Fisher said: "I knew Lindsay well. She was a very popular student and the school and staff are devastated. I have been giving the news to staff who taught her."

Mr Fisher said that staff and pupils would find a way of remembering Miss Hawker, who left in 2003.

From there she went to Leeds University to study biology, graduating in 2006.

A spokeswoman from the Nova language school in London said Miss Hawker started teaching in Japan at the end of October last year.

"Lindsay took her job very seriously and put every effort into it," the spokeswoman said.

"She was trying very hard to get used to Japan. We are very sorry that this incident has taken place."

The spokeswoman said the company was fully co-operating with police inquiries.

Miss Hawker is not the first British woman to die in unusual circumstances in Japan.

British bar hostess Lucie Blackman, 21, was working at a Tokyo nightclub when she disappeared in 2000.

Her remains were found near a beachside condominium outside Tokyo in February 2001, following an extensive search.

Businessman Joji Obara, 54, is accused of raping and fatally drugging Miss Blackman.