National / Crime & Legal

Gunma girl added to list of potential Zama serial killer victims

Kyodo

The police are zeroing in on the victims of Japan’s most gruesome serial murder case in recent memory, adding a female high school student from Gunma Prefecture to the potential list, investigative sources said Sunday.

More than a week after nine dismembered bodies were allegedly found in a sex industry tout’s apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, police are still compiling a list of potential victims.

In addition to the Gunma girl, investigators suspect a man and a woman from Kanagawa Prefecture could be among the victims. Their butchered bodies were discovered in seven cooler boxes in the 27-year-old man’s apartment, they said.

The suspect, Takahiro Shiraishi, has confessed to the killings.

Based on clues found at the scene of the crime, including a bank card and mobile phone signals traced to the apartment’s vicinity, the victims may also include female high school students from Fukushima and Saitama prefectures and a 23-year-old woman from the western Tokyo suburb of Hachioji.

The police are trying to identify them through DNA analysis.

The series of killings was brought to light by the disappearance of a Hachioji woman in late October whom Shiraishi admitted murdering. He was arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of mutilating a body and hiding it in a cooler before disposing of it between August and October.

Investigative sources also said that a new mobile phone was found in Shiraishi’s apartment but that the suspect told them it wasn’t his, prompting the police to check its registered owner against the victim list.

The suspect allegedly used Twitter to lure his victims, many of whom were apparently suicidal and wanted his help taking their lives. But the victims “actually did not want to die,” he was quoted as telling the police.

Shiraishi used multiple Twitter accounts — including one with the handle “hangingpro,” to boast about his supposed knowledge of hanging so he could approach people who had expressed a wish to die.