MATSUYAMA, EHIME PREF. – The rotting corpse of an unidentified woman in her 60s or 70s was found in a suitcase along a wooded road Saturday in Saijo, Ehime Prefecture, police said.
Alarmed by the stench, a 50-year-old man walking near Fukujoji Temple found the suitcase and called the police at 4 p.m.
The police said the woman, who was no more than 1.5 meters tall, had been dead for up to 10 days. She was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and had been stuffed into the case with her knees bent, they said, adding there was nothing found on or near her that could establish her identity.
An autopsy performed Sunday couldn’t single out the cause of death as the body was too decomposed, but the police said there were no visible external injuries.
Investigators believe the body may have been left indoors for some time before being placed in the suitcase and dumped outside, due to the extent of the decomposition. If the body had been stuffed into the suitcase soon after death and exposed to high outdoor temperatures, the decomposition would have been far more progressed, they said.
The 80 by 60 by 20 cm suitcase was lying on its side in grass a few meters from the road.
A local resident claimed the suitcase was not there Thursday morning, leading the police to believe it was dumped there after that time.
According to other residents, the city road where the suitcase was found does not have much traffic compared with a nearby prefectural road used as a bypass.
“I rarely go down the city road,” said 60-year-old Mieko Takeda, a local resident. “It’s really scary that such an incident could occur in the neighborhood.”
The uninhabited wooded area where the suitcase was found is about 3 km west of Iyo-Miyoshi Station on the JR Yosan Line.