National / Crime & Legal

Hachioji woman's remains first to be ID'd in Zama serial killer carnage

AFP-JIJI, Kyodo, JIJI

The Metropolitan Police Department announced Monday that one of the nine people mutilated by a suspected serial killer in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, has been identified as Aiko Tamura of Hachioji, Tokyo.

The suspect, Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, is likely to be rearrested on suspicion of murder.

Investigators believe the other victims include a 26-year-old woman; a 19-year-old female college student from Saitama Prefecture; a 25-year-old woman from Kanagawa Prefecture; three teenage high school girls — including a 15-year-old — from Fukushima, Gunma and Saitama prefectures; and a couple from Kanagawa.

Tamura, who was 23, went missing in late October. During the search for her, the police stumbled upon nine dismembered bodies at Shiraishi’s apartment.

Shiraishi was arrested last Tuesday on suspicion of abandoning a body.

Tamura is believed to be the last of the nine, investigative sources said.

While most of the victims have not been formally identified yet, bank cards and other items left in the alleged killer’s apartment indicated they were likely murdered there.

Some of their cellphone signals also disappeared near the apartment, media reports said.

On the morning of Halloween, police uncovered a grisly house of horrors behind Shiraishi’s front door: nine dismembered bodies with as many as 240 bone parts stashed in coolers and tool boxes, sprinkled with cat litter in a bid to hide the smell.

Investigators identified one of the bodies as Tamura after conducting a DNA test on bone parts from the coolers and on Tamura’s toothbrush.

Shiraishi moved into the one-room apartment on Aug. 22. According to investigators, he said he lured people with suicidal tendencies via Twitter by telling them he could help them carry out their plans or even die alongside them. He was found to have used a Twitter account with the username “hangingpro” to make claims about his knowledge of hanging.

He reportedly went ahead with killing the people even after realizing what they really wanted was to talk, rather than to die.

“Although I wrote on Twitter that I wanted to commit suicide, I had no intention of killing myself at all. None wanted to die, actually,” Shiraishi reportedly told investigators.

According to the police, the suspect said his objectives were to kill, molest and rob the victims, who were allegedly hanged after receiving alcohol or sleeping pills, or were strangled until they fainted.

Meanwhile, a woman in her 20s claims she arranged to meet with Shiraishi on the day after he was eventually arrested after discussing suicide by email and phone for two months. He refused to say anything, however, when she said she could hear a woman groaning in the background during a telephone call one October night.

“He had given me two options. One was that he makes me unconscious by putting sleep drug in my drink and then strangles me with a rope. The other was that he strangles me with a rope from behind while I’m watching TV or something,” she told the Fuji TV network.

“If I had met with him, I may have been dismembered like other victims. I may be lucky but I’m rather scared now.”

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