Flat full of bodies; mom guilty of killing daughter


A 56-year-old woman was sentenced Monday to 12 years in prison for strangling her teenage daughter in their Hiratsuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, apartment — the same flat where the badly decomposed bodies of the defendant’s three small children and a hanged man were found.

Chizuko Okamoto had pleaded not guilty, and her defense team argued that the victim, 19-year-old Rikako Okamoto, may have been strangled by her half brother, the 35-year-old man found hanged.

Prosecutors demanded 17 years, saying Chizuko Okamoto was trying to pin the slaying on the dead man. Police determined the half brother hanged himself sometime after his half sister’s death.

“There was no reason for him to kill Rikako,” presiding Judge Takaaki Oshima said. “This is a coldblooded crime, in which (the accused) showed no loving feeling for the daughter.”

Chizuko Okamoto was convicted of strangling her daughter in the apartment around Oct. 12, 2005.

The case drew huge coverage in May 2006 when the decomposed bodies of the 19-year-old daughter as well as her half brother and Chizuko Okamoto’s son, Toshihide, and two other children were found in the apartment. Chizuko Okamoto was quoted by police as saying she kept the bodies of the three children — a young boy and two babies — in cardboard boxes for about 20 years before Rikako Okamoto’s death.

Rikako Okamoto and her half brother were found dead in the apartment by the man’s mother and the apartment’s owner. Police found the other bodies the following day while searching the apartment.

Autopsies on the three children were inconclusive on the cause of death. The young victim identified as Toshihide Okamoto was reported missing by Chizuko Okamoto in 1984 when he was 6 years old. The three-year statute of limitations had run out on the crime of abandoning a corpse, so prosecutors decided not to pursue other charges.