YAMAGATA – Police arrested a man Sunday on suspicion of breaking into a house in Iide, Yamagata Prefecture, early in the morning, killing a photo shop owner and his son and critically injuring his wife with a cutting tool.
Hironobu Ito, 24, was arrested after he was found in a nearby mountainous area. According to neighbors, the suspect, a distant relative of the family that was attacked, lives about 50 meters from the victims’ home.
The photo shop owner, Nobuyoshi Ito, 60, and his 27-year-old son, Satoru, were taken to a hospital where they died of stab wounds, the police said. The owner’s 54-year-old wife, Hideko, was in critical condition.
The man allegedly admitted during questioning that he broke into the home. He said he threw the weapon away afterward in the mountains, investigative sources said.
The sources also said that, because the two victims who died had multiple stab wounds and there were no signs of robbery in the house, the suspect may have held a grudge against the family.
Autopsies on the father and son showed each had been stabbed for more than 10 times, indicating they struggled with their assailant, the police said, adding that the suspect had four cuts on his palms.
The suspect entered the house through the front door, which was not locked. In rural areas, houses are often left unlocked.
The wife called police at around 3:55 a.m., saying a man had broken into the house and was trying to kill her husband.
A short time later, a neighbor telephoned the police, saying, “It looked like they were being struck by a steel pipe. A man fled.”
Ito’s 93-year-old mother, Sei, who was in a detached part of the house at the time of the attack, was not harmed, the police said.
They said witnesses described the attacker as 20 to 40 years old and dressed in black.
The police later found an abandoned car on a mountain road a few kilometers from Ito’s house. There were bloodstains inside the car.
The man who was apprehended was found 2 km from the car, the police said.
Satoru Ito, who worked in the city of Yamagata, was in Iide for the Golden Week holidays, which ended Sunday.
He was scheduled to get married in October in Hawaii and frequently returned home to make arrangements for his wedding, according to people close to him.
They also said the Itos had run a photo shop for more than 10 years and had good relations with their neighbors.
“The Itos have never caused trouble” in the local community, one acquaintance said.