• Kyodo

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The owner of a secondhand goods store who is suspected of killing an employee in 2004 has admitted disposing of the alleged victim’s bones in an appliance crusher, investigative sources said Thursday.

Shinya Nakao, 47, and his wife Chisa, 45, from Chikugo, Fukuoka Prefecture, were rearrested Monday for allegedly assaulting 22-year-old Takashi Hidaka, who was reported missing in July 2004.

“I ground down the bones using a machine we use at our shop for ripping apart electronics and metal waste,” Shinya was quoted as saying.

The Fukuoka Prefectural Police arrested the couple in April during an unrelated theft investigation. During questioning, the man confessed to disposing of several bodies, including that of Hidaka.

Hidaka began working for and living with the couple in August 2003. Based on Shinya’s testimony, police searched the backyard of his parents’ house, also in Chikugo, and found pieces of bone buried there that DNA analysis showed were Hidaka’s.

Nearby, police found the remains of a second corpse. It, too, had been crushed, they said.

Relatives of other people who worked at Nakao’s shop have said workers were often hired as live-in employees and that many were assaulted.

“From the time (Nakao) started his business, one by one, the workers were forced to work as if they were under house arrest,” said a relative of one male former employee. “They were forced to work from early hours in the morning until late at night and would often be physically abused.”

The couple would also force their employees to borrow money from loan sharks or buy cars, the relative said.

According to one of the couple’s acquaintances, Shinya paid several million yen to settle out of court a case brought by one former worker who escaped. The man was reportedly assaulted by Shinya.

Based on witness testimonies, investigators said they believe Hidaka was assaulted by the couple on a daily basis.

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