WAKAYAMA — A former Wakayama termite exterminator arrested with his wife on Sunday over alleged insurance fraud has dropped his denials and admitted to police he once kept arsenic, police sources said Tuesday.The lethal substance — the same as that used in a fatal curry poisoning that killed four and sickened 63 at a July 25 festival near his home in the Sonobe district — had been stored both at home and at a warehouse nearby to kill the pests, the sources quoted him as saying.Kenji Hayashi, 53, and his wife, Masumi, 37, a former insurance agent, were arrested at their home at 6 a.m. in the Sonobe district in connection with an attempted murder and insurance fraud in September 1997. Police allege Masumi used arsenic to poison a man by tainting food she prepared for him.Though Kenji, who quit the extermination business in 1992, said he gave his leftover arsenic to a business acquaintance, police say he had possession a large volume of arsenic until about 3 1/2 years ago, the sources said.The unnamed businessman turned a 50-kg drum of arsenic over to police in August as the probe of the July 25 curry poisonings unfolded. The sources say 22 kg of the poison was in the drum.Tests of the three pots of curry used in the festival contained more than 100 grams of arsenic, police say — enough to kill 500 people. Masumi Hayashi was one of the people entrusted to watch alone over the food for a brief period before it was served.Police are now trying to find a link between the arsenic used in the July poisoning and the alleged insurance fraud, in which the toxin was used to poison a 35-year-old male acquaintance, the sources said. The man was hospitalized for many months but survived because he vomited the tainted meal.Investigators allege Masumi poisoned the man to swindle seven insurance companies of 129 million yen in life policies in the man’s name.
In a time of both misinformation and too much information, quality journalism is more crucial than ever.
By subscribing, you can help us get the story right.