• Kyodo

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A 46-year-old man has confessed to killing his wife, their two children and his parents, aided by his younger brother, at an apartment in Chita, Aichi Prefecture, before attempting to commit suicide, police sources said Tuesday.

Police found the bodies of Mikio Murata’s parents, Minoru and Kinue, both 74; Murata’s wife, Ayako, 44; and the couple’s two children, Naho, 11, and Kenya, 9, on Monday night. They all appeared to have been strangled.

Murata’s younger brother, Toyoharu, 44, was also found dead, police said.

Murata told police that he and his younger brother strangled the five at their parents’ apartment before attempting to kill themselves.

Police said Murata told them that he was unable to kill himself. He was hospitalized with cuts to the abdomen and neck.

Officers later found what appeared to be several suicide notes apparently addressed to Murata’s distant relatives. In the letters, Murata and his brother apologized for killing the five, the police sources said.

Police plan to arrest Murata on suspicion of murder after he gets better. They will also turn their case against the brother over to prosecutors, the sources said.

Police found a kitchen knife in the bathroom, where the brother’s body was found, the sources said.

Police said earlier they were alerted by a phone call just after 9 p.m. Monday from Murata, who told them that he had tried to kill himself after murdering his family.

Investigators suspect that Murata waited a few days after killing his family before contacting the police. The cuts on his body were at least a day old, and the mail box of his parents’ apartment contained newspapers from several days ago, the police said.

Murata’s family and his brother lived separately. Their apartments are about 500 meters from their parents’ home.

The family ran a steel factory near their home. Mikio and Toyoharu had taken over the factory’s management from their parents about 10 years ago and supervised daily operations.

People close to the family said the business had turned bad in recent years. The family had debts, they said.

One family source quoted Kinue as complaining about the factory’s situation. Another source said men in suits frequently came to the apartment to see Mikio for about a year.

On Tuesday morning, classrooms of a local elementary school where the two slain children were pupils grieved over the losses.

“If (Naho had lived) one more year, she would have entered junior high,” a female classmate noted. Another girl said she had wanted to graduate with Naho.

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