National / Crime & Legal

71-year-old woman suspected of murdering three older family members due to stress of caregiving

Kyodo

A 71-year-old woman in central Japan suspected of murdering her husband has told investigators she strangled her in-laws as well, local police said Monday, pointing to the stress of being the sole caregiver in the family as a possible motive.

Masako Kishimoto was arrested Sunday for allegedly choking her husband Takio, 70, to death with a towel while he was asleep at their home in the city of Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, in the early hours that day.

The bodies of Takio’s father Yoshio, 93, and mother Shinobu, 95, were also discovered.

“I choked the three of them to death,” she was quoted as saying by police. Takio had difficulties walking after suffering a minor stroke, while Shinobu had been certified by authorities as needing care, according to the investigators.

On Monday police searched the house where the four had lived. They suspect Masako had been motivated to kill the three because she was exhausted from taking care of all of them.

Masako’s daughter, in her 40s, called the police after she was contacted by her mother, prompting them to find the bodies of Yoshio and Shinobu on the first floor and that of Takio on the second floor of their two-story home. There were no external injuries on the bodies, they said.

The suspect was also sent to the hospital as she was thought to have taken sleeping pills in an attempt to kill herself, but is reportedly in stable condition.

Takio had succeeded Yoshio as head of a construction company, and Masako served as a board member in charge of accounting.

“She started to tell me that she was ‘exhausted with caregiving’ and how she was ‘feeling unwell,'” said a 72-year-old woman in the neighborhood who had talked to Masako earlier this year.

The family home is located in a residential area some 2.5 kilometers south of Tsuruga Station.