National / Crime & Legal

Three arrested over murder of Tokyo woman, 80, after police link men to Shibuya robberies targeting elderly

Kyodo

Police arrested three men Wednesday over the robbery and murder of an 80-year-old woman in Tokyo last month, after investigators found similarities in the case with two other robberies targeting elderly people.

Tatsumi Komatsuzono, 27, Hiroki Sue, 22, and Yuta Sakai, 22, allegedly broke into the apartment of Kuniko Kato in Koto Ward on Feb. 28 and killed her. The three men have denied the allegations, according to the police.

A nursing caregiver found Kato dead the same day with her hands and feet bound. About two weeks before the murder, Kato told a friend she had received a suspicious phone call asking whether she kept money at home. She did not report the matter to police.

Prior to the case, two similar robberies took place in Shibuya Ward, one in January and another in February. In those cases, the victims were also tied up and had received phone calls asking how they kept their money, according to investigative sources.

Security footage and witness reports allegedly placed the three men at the scene of the crime in Koto Ward and the vehicle seen near Kato’s house matched the description of the car used in the Shibuya crimes.

On Jan. 11, three masked suspects broke into the residence of a 93-year-old man and his 86-year-old wife, tied them up and took about ¥20 million worth of cash and jewelry. Two days earlier, a man pretending to be their son had called to ask for money, saying he had become sick, according to investigators.

On Feb. 1, three men who initially claimed to be police officers entered the residence of a married couple in their 70s and 80s, tied them up and took about ¥4 million in cash. At least one of the three was wearing a ski mask, according to the police.

Police have been alerting the public about suspicious phone calls to obtain personal information, including questions about financial assets and the makeup of the household. Callers often identify themselves as relatives of the targets or poll takers, they said.