Police Find 9 Mutilated Bodies, Heads in Coolers in Serial Killer Case That Stuns Japan

The residence of Takahiro Shiraishi in the city of Zama, southwest of Tokyo, on Tuesday. The police said Mr. Shiraishi had acknowledged killing one person and dismembering the body.
Kyodo News, via Associated Press

A police search for a missing Tokyo woman who had sought a suicide partner led them to a townhouse with nine mutilated bodies and coolers containing heads covered in cat litter, Japanese media reported Tuesday.

The townhouse tenant, a 27-year-old man identified as Takahiro Shiraishi, was arrested on suspicion of murder in an investigation that escalated into fears that he was a serial killer.

Accounts by the national broadcaster NHK and leading newspapers described Mr. Shiraishi’s second-floor townhouse, in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, southwest of Tokyo, as something out of a Halloween horror movie.

They quoted police investigators as saying they first found the heads of two victims in a cooler box — obscured by cat litter to mask the smell — at the entrance of the second-floor apartment, and other heads in cooler boxes elsewhere inside. Neighbors were quoted as saying a smell that resembled sewage had been wafting from the residence.

The decomposing remains of eight women and one man were found in the apartment.

Mr. Shiraishi admitted to investigators that he had killed nine people since moving into the apartment in August, dismembered them in the bathtub, and threw some body parts in the garbage to hide the evidence, according to the Japanese press accounts.

A saw, apparently used to dismember the victims, also was found in the apartment, the press accounts said.

NHK and the others said the police had initially been investigating the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who had posted a message online saying she was looking for someone to commit suicide with her.

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SOURCE: NY Times, Hisako Ueno and Austin Ramzy