• Kyodo

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The wife of a local man missing since 1997 was arrested early Thursday on suspicion of murder after the man’s body was found inside a freezer near a vacant warehouse, police said.

Akemi Iinuma, 40, has confessed to killing her husband, Hidenori, a local government employee, and keeping the body in the freezer for more than four years, police said.

Investigators suspect that Iinuma murdered her husband in their Wakkanai home in late November 1997 and then reported him missing a month later.

The husband was living with Akemi and two other members of his family when he went missing, police said. Akemi moved out of the house last month.

Police said they will question the suspect about her motives, and coroners are expected to conduct an autopsy soon.

According to investigators, Akemi said she strangled her husband with his necktie and then kept his body in a freezer at their home for 4 1/2 years until she moved out in May.

An employee at a local real-estate company found the body when he tried to move the freezer, which measures 74 × 77 × 60 cm, left outside a warehouse on a piece of land bought by his firm.

The body, which was clothed, was bent at the midsection and had been covered with a blanket.

Although the corpse is badly decomposed, there are no signs of major external injuries, according to police.

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