Yamaguchi murder suspect nabbed

Man found in underwear on trail confesses to killing five neighbors, torching two houses in their hamlet

Kyodo

Police said Friday they have arrested the 63-year-old man sought in connection with the Sunday-Monday slaying of five people and the torching of two of their homes in the hamlet of Shunan, Yamaguchi Prefecture.

The suspect, identified as Kosei Homi, was found barefoot and wearing only his underwear on an unused mountain trail Friday near Shunan. Upon being taken into custody, he confessed to the slaying of his five neighbors and the two cases of arson, the police said.

Police launched a major manhunt for Homi after finding the five corpses, three of which were in the gutted homes.

After the police found a cellphone and a shirt that apparently belonged to Homi at around 3 p.m. Thursday, they started combing the immediate area.

Despite some scratches, Homi was in good health, the police said.

When they found him, Homi confirmed his identity and reportedly told them: “I wanted to die, but I failed.”

The police suspected Homi in connection with the crimes, because he had not been seen since Sunday and he lived next door to one of the victims.

The bodies of Makoto Sadamori, 71, and his wife, Kiyoko, 72, and that of Miyako Yamamoto, 79, were found in their homes, which had been gutted. The two houses, about 80 meters apart, both started to burn at around 9 p.m. Sunday.

Homi lived next door to Yamamoto.

The police suspected the two homes were torched soon after the victims were killed.

On Monday, police found two more bodies, those of Satoko Kawamura, 73, and Fumito Ishimura, 80, in their homes, even though they had reportedly confirmed that Kawamura was safe Sunday night.

All of the victims died instantly of blunt-force head trauma.

The police searched Homi’s house for evidence. Earlier they found two cars in his garage, leading them to believe he had fled on foot.

It was earlier reported that the police also found a message in a form of a haiku inside a window of Homi’s house that read: “Tsukebishite kemuri yorokobu inakamono.” (“Setting on fire, smoke gives delight, to a country fellow.”)

The hamlet where Homi and the five victims lived consisted of only eight households and 14 residents.

According to other neighbors, Homi did not interact well and once left the community to live in Kawasaki. After he returned, he would not exchange in any form of greeting, they said.

Homi reportedly proposed a project to develop the area, but his plan was rejected by his neighbors. Some also said he had troubles with them over his dog.

During the 2011 New Year’s holiday, Homi reportedly complained to police, saying, “I’m being bad-mouthed by other people in the community and feel isolated.”

After having a conversation with officers for over an hour, he said he felt relieved and returned home, the police said.

According to sources, instead of trying to improve relations with others in his community, Homi installed a fake security camera and pretended to be monitoring the home of Yamamoto.

He also hung the malicious haiku.