Neighborhood man held in slaying of Itabashi housewife

JIJI

A 22-year-old man is being held on theft charges in connection with the slaying of Tokyo housewife Kumi Arai at her condominium in Itabashi Ward.

The Metropolitan Police Department is questioning Genki Matsuo, who is unemployed and lived in her neighborhood, about his possible involvement in the murder.

Matsuo, who was arrested Saturday, allegedly used Arai’s bank card to withdraw ¥250,000 from an automated teller machine at a convenience store near Ikebukuro Station in Toshima Ward at around 5 p.m. on Nov. 21 soon after she was slain.

Matsuo has denied the theft allegations, police sources said.

Matsuo, who lives in an apartment about 700 meters north of the victim’s Itabashi Ward condo, surfaced as a suspect after images from security footage taken at her home, train stations and the ATM proved similar to images in the police database filed after his arrest in another theft case.

Arai, 34, is believed to have been stabbed to death on Nov. 21 after returning to her condo at around 3:30 p.m. to find the suspect in the process of burgling it. He had broken in by smashing the kitchen window.

Shortly before, an image of a man wearing a suit and black-framed glasses was recorded on a security device at the condominium.

According to an analysis of neighborhood security cameras and other evidence, the man took a train from Narimasu Station on the Tobu Tojo Line, which is close to Arai’s home, to Ikebukuro Station at around 4 p.m. on Nov. 21. He then bought a sweater and a cap at a store near the station, changed clothes at a pachinko parlor and withdrew cash at the convenience store ATM.

A person resembling the suspect also took a train from Ikebukuro Station to a station near the crime scene on the afternoon of Nov. 23.

Suspecting that the man may live close to the victim, police investigated the area and discovered Matsuo was renting an apartment about 500 meters from Narimasu Station.

According to the apartment owner, Matsuo moved in last spring and was living with a woman. He claimed to be a company employee when he signed the lease but was never actually seen going to work, the landlord said.

“He gave me a sloppy impression because the laundry was always left outside,” the landlord said. “Still, he was polite and calm, and did not look like the type of guy who would commit a crime.”

A 72-year-old woman who lives in the area said she was terrified by the news.