• Kyodo


A 36-year-old man arrested late Friday on suspicion of killing a woman he met through a suicide Web site has confessed to killing two other victims who also believed he shared their desire to commit suicide, according to police sources.

Hiroshi Maeue, 36, an employee at a temporary staff agency, was arrested on suspicion of suffocating Michiko Nagamoto, 25, in February.

He has also reportedly admitted to killing a male junior high school student from Hyogo Prefecture in May and a male college student from Higashi Osaka in June, and dumping their bodies in mountains in southern parts of Osaka Prefecture.

Late Saturday, police found what appeared to be the partial remains of the junior high school student on a mountain slope where Maeue said he buried the body.

The Osaka Prefectural Police suspect Maeue had proposed to Nagamoto that they commit suicide together, even though he apparently had no intention of killing himself, the sources said.

Maeue is suspected of killing her Feb. 19 inside a rented car after sending her an e-mail asking to meet. He allegedly abandoned her body in a mountain forest.

The police sources said he admitted to killing her, and told investigators he feels “sexually excited” to see a person being suffocated and suffering in agony.

Maeue is from Sakai and Nagamoto was from Toyonaka, both in Osaka Prefecture. They apparently met for the first time at the time of Nagamoto’s death, though they had exchanged e-mail about 20 times since late last year.

Nagamoto’s body was found Feb. 23 and was later identified through fingerprints. The body was buried along a river in a mountainous area in Kawachinagano, Osaka Prefecture.

Police traced Maeue as a suspect by tracking down records of e-mails as well as the car rental contract, according to the sources.

Maeue reportedly told police he also suffocated a male junior high school student in May and a male college student in June, and abandoned their bodies in separate mountainous areas in southern Osaka Prefecture.

After checking missing persons reports, police suspect the victim in the May case was a 14-year-old boy from Kobe and the other a 21-year-old college student.

Suicide Web sites have made headlines in recent years as a number of people have committed suicides in groups after meeting through the Internet. These people typically commit suicide through carbon monoxide poisoning by confining themselves in sealed vehicles and burning charcoal stoves.

Maeue is believed to have posted messages on several suicide Web sites.

Since his mid-20s, he was arrested on several occasions for attempting to suffocate female passersby on streets. In 2002, he was sentenced to 10 months for one of those incidents.

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