• Kyodo

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A mother and her two elementary school children were found dead Tuesday in their home in Ogori, Fukuoka Prefecture, and the Fukuoka Prefectural Police said Wednesday they have started a murder investigation.

According to the police, 38-year-old Yukiko Nakata was found lying on the kitchen floor on the first floor of her house and her 9-year-old son, Ryosuke, and 6-year-old daughter, Miyu, were discovered in the bedroom upstairs. All three had apparently been strangled, they said.

On Wednesday, the police found a burned charcoal briquette near the mother’s body, leading them to believe that someone might have tried to make the scene look like a murder-suicide. Yukiko’s husband, who is a police officer with the prefectural police, told investigators that the three were asleep when he left for work at around 6:45 a.m. Tuesday. Later in the morning, when he was informed that his children had not come to school, he asked Yukiko’s sister, who lives nearby, to check on the house.

Yukiko’s sister called the police at around 9:20 a.m. after finding the bodies, the police said.

Since there were no traces of someone ransacking the house or anything being stolen, the police at first believed the mother had committed suicide after killing the children. The sister reported the case as a suicide and both the sister and the husband told investigators that Yukiko had worries about raising children.

But an autopsy found subcutaneous bleeding in her neck that the police say was apparently not caused by suicide. The police are still investigating to determine how the three died.

“I heard it was murder and I hurried to school,” said Seiichi Egami, principal of the elementary school where the children attended. “I am really shocked.”

The city’s board of education asked all eight elementary schools in the city to have students go home in groups.

The family lived in a residential area about 400 meters east of Nishitetsu Ogori Station.

“They seem to have been getting along well together,” a male neighbor said. “I feel very sorry for them.”

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