Malodorous mummy in Fukuoka tied to faith healer

Kyodo

A woman’s partially mummified corpse was found Sunday night in a house in Sagara Ward here, police said.

The body was found after Katsunobu Ueno, 41, notified police at around 6:45 p.m. about a strange odor in his house, investigators said Monday.

A subsequent search turned up the body, which had been wrapped in white cloth and laid on blankets in the corner of a six-tatami mat first-floor room whose door had been blocked shut by a chest, they said.

Police theorized that the deceased may have been involved in some religious rite practiced by Ueno’s mother, Kazuko, 63, who had previously told neighbors that she had founded a religion.

The son told police that the odor had been emanating from the room for some time.

A police autopsy carried out Monday indicates that the woman had been dead for about six months.

The exact cause of death was not revealed, but the woman may have died of an illness because there are no external wounds, investigators said.

The son had been living in the house with his mother, 70-year-old father and two women, one of them a 57-year-old resident of the ward whose relatives on Oct. 10 asked police to list her as missing and start a search. The other woman has been confirmed to be alive. The mother has told investigators the body is that of the missing woman.

Women who appeared to be followers of Kazuko’s religion were often seen coming and going from the house, neighbors said.

Kazuko earlier told investigators that she “offers prayers to heal diseases by religion,” according to police, who suspect that she may know the circumstances of how the body ended up in the house.