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Suspect in Yamaguchi murder-arson case is turned over to prosecutors

Kyodo

The police on Saturday turned over to prosecutors the 63-year-old man suspected of murdering five people and torching two homes in a remote mountain community in Yamaguchi Prefecture.

Kosei Homi was caught five days after the bodies of a woman and a couple, all in their 70s, were found in their fire-gutted houses in a hamlet under the administration of the city of Shunan. The bodies of two other seniors were discovered in their intact homes the next morning.

When Homi was delivered to the prosecutors, revealing himself in front of the media, he did not look up and had scratches on his face apparently made while he was in a mountainous area. He was wearing a dark blue shirt and beige trousers.

On Saturday, investigators searched the mountains where Homi was found for weapons that might have been used in the slayings and other evidence.

Meanwhile, autopsies and circumstantial evidence pointed to the possibility that Homi may have killed the two people in the intact houses while police were responding to the arsons involving the first three victims.

Two houses were found on fire at around 9 p.m. last Sunday: the house of victim Miyako Yamamoto, 79, and another nearby in which two bodies were later found. When the police went to evacuate Homi’s house, he wasn’t there.

The autopsy results meanwhile show that the two seniors found dead in the intact houses — Satoko Kawamura, 73, and Fumito Ishimura, 80 — died early Monday at the latest.

On Sunday, when the police were trying to confirm the whereabouts of the residents, they saw Kawamura at around 11 p.m. A Kyodo reporter who called Ishimura at his home around midnight said no one answered.

According to Homi’s acquaintances, he had gotten into a dispute with other members of the tiny community.

Kawamura’s husband had quit rice farming several years ago after quarreling with Homi over a rice paddy, a neighbor said, and later expressed concern that Homi might try to kill him. Kawamura’s husband was on a trip when the killings took place.

“I’m relieved. I hope he will reveal everything he knows and atone for what he did,” neighbor Fumio Sadakuni, 77, said of the arrest.