• Kyodo

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Police have arrested a 48-year-old woman and two people living at her home on suspicion of starving to death the woman’s 19-year-old son.

Yumiko Kitamura is suspected of murdering her son, Shohei, by not providing him with food, resulting in his death on Aug. 2 at their home in Hannan, Osaka Prefecture.

Satoshi Nakamura, 42, is suspected of ordering the woman not to give the teenager food, police officials said. Meanwhile, Nakamura’s girlfriend, 36-year-old Kazuyo Doko, is also suspected of having a hand in the teen’s death.

The three were arrested Thursday.

Shohei was 182 cm tall but weighed only 32 kg — the average weight of a 9-year-old — at the time of his death, police said.

According to investigators, Nakamura began abusing the teen from around the end of May, forcing him to kneel in the formal Japanese style for extended periods of time and not giving him food.

By July, the youth began to suffer from incontinence and could no longer stand unassisted, police said. The three then conspired to leave him with virtually no food, leading to his death, they said.

Of the three, Nakamura has denied the allegations, stating that the youth refused to eat of his own will, according to investigators.

The two women have admitted to the charges, with Kitamura saying she could not resist because Nakamura berated her for failing to teach her son manners.

Police said they decided to arrest the trio on suspicion of murder based on Kitamura’s admission that she knew her son would die. They also cited the fact that the women said Nakamura had ordered them not to bother with the teen.

Investigative sources said that a 36-year-old man who had previously lived with Nakamura died in January after becoming unusually thin, and that police planned to question him about that death as well.

The man had been living with Nakamura in a hut along a riverbank in the city.

Nakamura and Doko began living at Kitamura’s home after she began living apart from her husband in February, police said, adding that the three came to know each other when Kitamura worked collecting empty cans.

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