Japan suspect in serial killing questioned by prosecutors

AP News
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Posted: Nov 01, 2017 4:39 AM
Japan suspect in serial killing questioned by prosecutors

TOKYO (AP) — A Japanese man police say confessed to killing and dismembering nine bodies found in his apartment was handed over to prosecutors for further questioning Wednesday as more chilling details emerged.

The questioning by prosecutors is a procedure before formal indictment. So far, Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, only faces a possible charge of abandoning bodies, but police are expected to seek murder and dismembering charges as well.

Shiraishi stuck both hands underneath his glasses to cover his face as a police car taking him to the prosecutors' office passed in front of a huge crowd of journalists trying to get a glimpse of him.

Police arrested him Tuesday after finding the bodies — eight female and one male — in cold-storage cases inside his apartment in Zama, a city southwest of the capital. Police say Shiraishi confessed he tried to hide the evidence.

Police found the bodies, some covered with cat litter, while searching for a 23-year-old woman who had disappeared after exchanging Twitter messages with someone, allegedly Shiraishi. They are working to identify the victims, saying she might be among them.

The gruesome case captured attention in a country known for public safety, topping news with reports that showed the building where the suspect lived in a small studio apartment.

On Wednesday, media reports quoted investigative sources as saying Shiraishi started killing as soon as he moved into his apartment in late August. His first victim was another woman whom he got in touch via Twitter, offering to assist her suicide wish, then killed her boyfriend to silence him, according to media reports, including NHK public television. They said Shiraishi used similar tactics to kill seven other women, four of them teenagers.

A police official who spoke to The Associated Press on Tuesday said a toolbox and saw found in Shiraishi's apartment may have been used to dismember the bodies. Online descriptions of the apartment building indicate it had a plastic-sealed "unit bath" and he allegedly cut up the bodies there.

Japanese media quoted his neighbors as saying they had noticed foul smells coming from the apartment. Shiraishi threw out some of the body parts as garbage, along with the victims' belongings, reports said.

They said the missing woman got in contact with Shiraishi via Twitter in late September, seeking a partner for a suicide pact and saying she was afraid to die alone. The two were recorded by security cameras walking together outside of train stations near her residence and the suspect's apartment on Oct. 23, the reports said.

The woman's brother reported her disappearance to police the next day.

The suspect told police his motives were money and sexual abuse, Japanese media reported Wednesday, but police refused to confirm the reports to AP.

Japanese police release information only through limited official statements or through news conferences that are exclusive to journalists in the police press club.

Local media ran a junior high school photo of the suspect, beaming, his hair fluffy, braces on his teeth suggesting a relatively well-off family background. But there was little other information about his education or where he comes from, except that he is from Zama. Reports say he was working as a "scout" in the sex industry, recruiting women in entertainment districts in Tokyo.

Internet suicide sites have been a concern since the late 1990s. In 2005, a man in Osaka lured three people via the internet with promises to assist in their suicides, and strangled them. He was sentenced to death.

Although Japan has one of the lowest crime rates in the world, it has witnessed some high-profile killings recently. Last month, a man was arrested for allegedly stabbing his wife and five children after setting fire to their house. In July last year, a former employee of a home for the disabled allegedly killed 19 and injured more than 20 others.

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