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Suspect in Japan Serial-Killer Case Sought Out Suicidal People

Television reporters spent a good part of Tuesday and Wednesday training their cameras on the building in the city of Zama where Mr. Shiraishi lived, or showing footage of the suspect covering his eyes with his hands as the police drove him to meet with prosecutors Wednesday morning.

With the police officially saying very little, it was left to the Japanese news media to report details leaked to members-only “press clubs” for crime reporters.

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The house in Zama, about 30 miles outside Tokyo, where the police found the bodies. Mr. Shiraishi was said in news reports to have found his victims on Twitter. Credit Kimimasa Mayama/European Pressphoto Agency

Although the police have so far charged Mr. Shiraishi only with “abandoning bodies,” news reports on Tuesday described him as a serial killer who sought people who were thinking of killing themselves and who had expressed their dark thoughts on Twitter. The police are expected to charge Mr. Shiraishi with murder.

According to news reports, the police discovered body parts from eight women and one man in Mr. Shiraishi’s apartment, along with a saw, ropes and an awl, apparently used to restrain and cut the bodies. The body parts, which included severed heads, were found in cold-storage containers and tool boxes, some covered in cat litter. The national broadcaster NHK reported that Mr. Shiraishi had said four of the victims were teenagers.

Kyodo News reported that Mr. Shiraishi, who worked as a recruiter for an escort service based in the Tokyo red-light district of Kabukicho, had confessed to sexually assaulting some of the women before killing them.

He also wanted money, according to the Kyodo report, and stole 500,000 yen, or about $ 4,400, from one of the victims.

The Japanese daily Yomiuri Shimbun reported that Mr. Shiraishi had described to investigators telling his father over the summer that his life was meaningless. Then, according to news outlets including Mainichi Shimbun, he created Twitter accounts specifically to attract people with suicidal thoughts.

The Mainichi report said that he had found his first victim on Twitter and had asked to meet up, but that she had come with her boyfriend. The three went out for a drink.

Mr. Shiraishi told the police that he later invited the woman to come alone to his apartment, where he killed her. When her boyfriend came looking for her, Mr. Shiraishi told the police, he killed him, as well.

“If the man reported her missing to the police, I thought I would be suspected, so I killed him,” the Mainichi report described Mr. Shiraishi as saying to the police.

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Investigators in Zama on Tuesday. As of Wednesday, the police had charged Mr. Shiraishi only with “abandoning bodies,” but were expected to charge him with murder. Credit Kimimasa Mayama/European Pressphoto Agency

The authorities were initially led to Mr. Shiraishi’s apartment while searching for a missing 23-year-old Tokyo woman who had posted on Twitter that she was “looking for someone who will die with me.”

Her brother reported her missing late last month, and through her Twitter account found that she had been exchanging messages with Mr. Shiraishi. The brother said she had been thinking of killing herself since the death of their mother in June, and that she had disappeared on Oct. 23 from the group home in Hachioji, a suburb of Tokyo, where she was living.

The suspect told the police that he had sent a Twitter message to the woman saying, “Let’s die together,” Kyodo reported.

The police have not yet said whether the woman’s remains were among those at Mr. Shiraishi’s apartment.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, the brother provided the police with Mr. Shiraishi’s Twitter handle, and investigators identified another woman who had been in touch with the suspect. She agreed to contact Mr. Shiraishi and to invite him to meet her at a train station while the police observed.

After the woman identified Mr. Shiraishi, the police followed him back to his apartment on Monday.

When they knocked on the door, he answered, and the police saw boxes inside. When they asked Mr. Shiraishi if he knew where the missing woman was, according to the Asahi report, he replied, “In that cooler.”

Neighbors told officers that they had noticed a sewage-like smell for at least two months, but that they had not reported it. According to Kyodo, Mr. Shiraishi told the police that he had not discarded the bodies because he was afraid of being caught.

Mr. Shiraishi’s case is not the first involving the killing of suicidal people identified online. A man who lured three people he found on a suicide message board in Osaka was convicted of killing them in 2005 and was given the death sentence. The Asahi Shimbun reported one other case of a killer who had found his victim on a suicide-related website.

Source: NYT > World

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