A man was indicted Monday for murdering, dismembering and storing the bodies of nine people in his apartment room near Tokyo last year, as the investigation into the serial killings that shook the nation came to an end.
Prosecutors decided Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, can be held criminally liable after five months of psychiatric tests. He is believed to have approached people who expressed suicidal thoughts on the internet and lured them to his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture.
According to the indictment, Shiraishi killed and dismembered eight women and one man from Tokyo and four prefectures, ranging in age from 15 to 26, from last August to October. Their bodies were discovered inside containers such as cooling boxes in his apartment.
Shiraishi strangled the nine people with rope and stole some cash from them. All of the eight women were sexually assaulted. He owed one of the victim’s around 360,000 yen ($ 3,240).
Shiraishi has been served with arrest warrants 10 times in connection with the killings. The indictment covers all of the cases.
The killings first came to light last October when police officers stepped into his apartment and found several cooling boxes containing body parts.
The officers were searching for a missing woman from Tokyo, who turned out to be one of the victims.
Shiraishi has told investigators that he got in touch with the victims via Twitter and invited them to his apartment, saying he would help them to die, according to the police.
The police said Shiraishi has also told investigators he killed the victims in order to steal money and he «wanted to lead an easy life.»
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Shiraishi carefully prepared and committed the killings, according to investigative sources.
He moved into the apartment in Zama shortly before killing the first victim. He apparently searched on the internet for how to dismember bodies and purchased tools such as a chopper and a saw, while practicing how to tie rope knots.
Prosecutors decided to have Shiraishi undergo a psychiatric examination before indicting him as his mental state at the time of the crimes is expected to be a focal point at his trial, investigative sources said.
Due to the mass of evidence, his trial is expected to take a long time before a ruling is issued, the sources said.
After his lawyer explained that pre-trial proceedings will likely take time, Shiraishi was quoted by the sources as saying, «I want to end this as soon as possible.»
He also surprised investigators by frankly discussing the killings and saying there was no way to get away with his crimes as the victims’ bodies had been found, according to the sources.
The serial killings of young people in need of help shocked Japanese society, prompting the government and social networking service businesses to improve support.
The Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology has decided to financially support counselling projects in 30 municipalities that utilize SNS such as Line, an application commonly used by young people.
Nagano Prefecture, which opened consultations via Line for two weeks in 2017, found there were significantly more consultations by this method than through conventional counseling telephone centers, according to the ministry.
«Most of what they talk about concerns human relationships, including romantic relationships,» said Tomoki Miyata, a clinical psychologist who engages in SNS counselling in Osaka. «It enables us to take preventive measures before things get serious.»
The government has vowed to tackle internet-linked crimes by improving education for elementary school pupils and encouraging private-sector groups to monitor SNS posts related to suicide.
In January, Twitter Japan began allowing users to be linked to a nonprofit organization on suicide prevention work whenever words related to suicide are searched for.
All — Kyodo News+