• Kyodo

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Police are leaning toward the theory that robbery was the probable motive behind the slaying of a Fukuoka family in June, investigative sources said Thursday.

The Fukuoka Prefectural Police believe the three suspects in the case, two of whom are being held by Chinese authorities, initially planned only to steal money or other valuables.

Discovered June 20 in Hakata Bay were the bodies of Shinjiro Matsumoto, a 41-year-old clothing merchant from the city of Fukuoka; his 40-year-old wife, Chika; their 11-year-old son, Kai; and their 8-year-old daughter, Hina.

The bodies were handcuffed and weighed down by dumbbells.

The three suspects have told investigators that they killed the family and stole money and valuables.

Wang Liang, 21, and Yang Ning, 23, were detained in August by Chinese authorities.

Wei Wei, a 23-year-old student in Japan, was arrested Aug. 8 by Japanese police on a separate burglary charge. Wei was about to leave the country when he was arrested.

As the suspects did not seem to have any links to the victims, investigators had earlier speculated that they had been hired by somebody who had a personal grudge against the family.

It is known that Matsumoto was growing cannabis at an apartment in Fukuoka’s Chuo Ward, about 4 km from his home.

But police in Fukuoka have thus far been unable to identify any individuals who could have been behind the murder, the sources said. Chinese police have also quoted the two suspects in their custody as denying that they were hired to kill the victims.

Fukuoka police plan to dispatch investigators to China on Sunday to assess the confessions of these suspects.

Since Japan and China do not have a treaty governing the handover of fugitive criminal suspects, Japanese police may eventually ask Chinese authorities to punish the two suspects under Chinese law on Japan’s behalf, according to the sources.

Police quoted Wei as saying that he broke into the home of the Matsumoto family with the two others and killed the family. His admission matched those of Wang and Yang, as announced by the Chinese Public Security Ministry.

Wei has said that he was approached by the others over a plan to steal from the Matsumotos, as they were wealthy.

Wang and Yang, who were also students in Japan, returned to China shortly after the murders were reported by the media in late June.

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