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Yamaguchi killer of five believed returned after fires to slay last victim

Kyodo

Police have reconstructed events in the five slayings and suspected arson that destroyed two homes in the tiny hamlet of Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture, officials said Wednesday.

The corpses were found Sunday and Monday. Makoto Sadamori, 71, his wife, Kiyoko, 72, and Miyako Yamamoto, 79, were probably the first to be bludgeoned to death sometime Sunday evening, the police said, adding their homes were apparently torched hours later.

It is likely the two other victims — Satoko Kawamura, 73, and Fumito Ishimura, 80 — were killed afterward, authorities added. Their bodies were found at around noon Monday.

Police are still searching for a missing 63-year-old male suspect who was living in the hamlet. On Wednesday, police examined two cars in the man’s garage.

A neighborhood woman said she was with Kawamura at the victim’s home until around 2 a.m. Monday.

An autopsy indicated Kawamura was probably slain early Monday or later that morning. She is believed to have been the last of the five killed.

The fire at the Yamamoto home is believed broken out at around 9 p.m. Sunday. The police, who were checking on the safety of other residents nearby around 11 p.m. Sunday, confirmed at the time that Kawamura was among the eight reported as safe.

However, police failed to get a response when they knocked on Ishimura’s door after the Yamamoto house fire was reported. His corpse was found around the same time as Kawamura’s.

The suspect, whose name has yet to be released, was reportedly with a group of acquaintances until 3 p.m. at a golf course Sunday. He has not been seen since.

The estimated time of death of the Sadamoris, whose home was gutted, was around 8:50 p.m. Sunday, while Yamamoto probably died between the early evening and 9 p.m., police said. Ishimura is believed to have died between Sunday night and the early morning hours of Monday.