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Masumi Hayashi held in Wakayama curry killings

WAKAYAMA — Police served Masumi Hayashi with a warrant Wednesday, charging her with murdering four people and attempting to kill 63 others by poisoning a vat of curry served up during Wakayama’s Sonobe district summer festival.

The warrant, based on circumstantial evidence, was obtained late Tuesday from the Wakayama District Court.

Hayashi was put in jail Oct. 4 in connection with several attempted murder-for-insurance cases in which police arsenious acid was mixed into pots of curry prepared for the July 25 event. On Wednesday, prosecutors charged her with attempting to murder her 53-year-old husband, Kenji, a former termite exterminator, with arsenic-laced food in an attempt to collect insurance money.

Although the warrant does not state the former insurance saleswoman’s motive, police are believed to have built a convincing case around the circumstantial evidence they have amassed.

Masumi Hayashi has during interrogation denied any wrongdoing, according to police. She has also made such denials to the press.

Using eyewitness accounts, investigators allege that Masumi Hayashi poisoned one of the curry pots between 12:20 and 1:00 p.m. while alone tending and warming food on the day of the festival in the garage of a private home situated close to the festival site.

Police suspect she poisoned the food in an attempt to collect some 542 million yen in life insurance she had brokered for five people, including her husband and two others she invited to visit her home on the day of the festival. The two would-be victims did not show for the party, which was later canceled. Police are attempting to determine the time she found out the party was called off, they said.

However, police also suspect Hayashi may have had a confrontation with some of the five and attempted to exact revenge.

Traces of arsenious acid have been found in the couple’s home and at several other locations close to the residence, as well as on a paper cup thrown in the trash the day of the festival.