On Feb. 28, the body of Kuniko Kato, 80, was found in her ransacked apartment in Tokyo’s Koto Ward. Her wrists had been bound with clear plastic wrap and her mouth and ankles bound with duct tape. While the specific cause of death has not been made public, she appeared to have suffocated. A police search of the crime scene turned up some ¥1.3 million in a bookshelf and about ¥200,000 in a billfold. A metal strongbox tucked into a closet did not appear to have been disturbed.
A short time earlier, Kato had confided to a male acquaintance that an unknown caller had asked her over the telephone, “Have you got money?”