• Kyodo

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Four men and three women were found stabbed to death early Monday at two neighboring homes in Kakogawa, Hyogo Prefecture, and police plan to arrest a man described as a relative with a penchant for violence.

Hospitalized after crashing his car nearby, the suspect told police he had “stabbed people” with a knife.

He was identified as Yasutaka Fujishiro, 47, a nephew of one of the victims.

Police obtained a warrant for him and plan to serve it once he recovers from the heavy burns he sustained when he crashed his car into an abutment. Police found in one house the bodies of Toshiko Fujishiro, 80, and her sons, Yoshihisa, 46, and Katsunori, 55. Katsunori’s wife, Akemi, 50, was found alive but she was listed in serious condition with a stab wound to the stomach.

In the other home nearby, police found the bodies of Toshihiko Fujishiro, 64, his wife, Sumiko, 64, their son, Shinichi, 27, and daughter, Midori, 26.

All of the victims are believed to be related. Toshiko lived with Yoshihisa at her home.

Police quoted Fujishiro as saying that he killed “out of a long-held grudge.”

At 3:30 a.m. Monday, police received a telephone call from Katsunori, who said his mother was bleeding from the head. Five minutes later, a woman — believed to be Akemi — called for help and said the attacker was in the house.

The responding officers found Toshiko, Katsunori and Yoshihisa dead in Toshiko’s house and Akemi wounded. The four others were found slain at Toshihiko’s house about 60 meters away.

Katsunori and his wife are believed to have been stabbed after they rushed to Toshiko’s house.

The victims had stab wounds in the neck and abdomen. A kitchen knife believed used in the attack was found.

Fujishiro, Toshiko’s nephew who lived with his mother in a house just west of Toshiko’s house, is believed to have set fire to his own house after stabbing the eight. Nobody was injured in the fire, which destroyed the house.

He fled the scene in a minicar and went to the home of his brother, who lives in the city, according to police. “I killed people. I am going to die,” the brother quoted Fujishiro as telling him. The brother tried to calm him down, but Fujishiro drove off.

Shortly after 4 a.m., a police cruiser heading to the crime scenes with red lights flashing happened to stop just behind Fujishiro’s minivehicle at a traffic signal — about 700 meters south of one of the houses.

Fujishiro’s car suddenly darted forward, slammed into a concrete pier of an overpass and burst into flames.

“I did that,” Fujishiro told police who rescued him from his car. He sustained heavy burns to his arms and legs.

He was taken to a hospital in Kobe. His condition is not life-threatening.

According to neighbors, Fujishiro, who is unemployed, had behaved violently toward local residents for years. They said they complained to police but no action was taken to stop him.

Fujishiro had been violent to his parents since childhood, neighbors said, and his father left home when the violence escalated.

He frequently picked fights with neighbors on small matters, shouted at passersby and at one time wielded a knife at a farmer, claiming he was making too much noise at his farm, police said.

“Recently, nobody would go near him,” said a 71-year-old housewife who lives nearby.

“For years, he has been causing trouble, and I was thinking something should be done,” another resident said. “We consulted police, but they would do nothing.”

Officials at Kakogawa Police Station initially denied having been contacted by residents over the man’s behavior but later acknowledged that neighbors had sought advice in July 2001 and July 2002.

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