KOBE – Police found a man’s corpse Wednesday in a concrete-filled metal drum they pulled from the harbor the previous day in Bizen, Okayama Prefecture, based on tips in a widening murder probe.
Hyogo Prefectural Police are trying to confirm the identity of the man, suspecting he is Jiro Hashimoto, who was 54 when he disappeared in summer 2011. Hashimoto is a distant relative of Miyoko Sumida, 64, a suspect under arrest in connection with several deaths and disappearances in Amagasaki, Hyogo Prefecture.
Sumida and others, including her sister-in-law, Mieko Sumida, have been charged with allegedly “causing bodily injury resulting in death” in connection with Kazuko Oe, 66, an acquaintance of Miyoko Sumida whose corpse was found last November in a concrete-filled drum in the Hyogo city of Amagasaki.
Miyoko Sumida is believed to be involved in the deaths of three other people, whose bodies were found under a house in Amagasaki in mid-October. No cause of death has as yet been stipulated in connection with any of the corpses found.
Earlier reports alleged Miyoko Sumida exerted a form of mind control over the victims in a bid to extort money.
Police found the metal drum containing the man’s body based on tips from several people linked to Miyoko Sumida who said Hashimoto died in summer 2011 after being physically abused and later packed in a drum filled with concrete in a rental warehouse in Amagasaki.
The as-yet unnamed sources of the tips also said the drum was then transported to Bizen because there was not enough room to bury the corpse at the Amagasaki house.
Hashimoto, a younger brother of Mieko Sumida’s husband, whose name was not provided, had lived with Miyoko Sumida for some time and had repeatedly, but unsuccessfully, tried to escape from her, the sources alleged.
Police are now investigating the 2005 fatal fall in Okinawa of Hashimoto’s brother during a trip he and wife Mieko Sumida made to the prefecture. Of particular interest is a life insurance policy taken out on the victim.