World

Nine headless bodies found in Tokyo flat

27-year-old Japanese man arrested as Halloween in Zama turns grisly

ZAMA, JAPAN Japanese police have found nine mutilated bodies dumped in containers with their heads cut off and flesh stripped off in a suburban Tokyo flat, the media reported yesterday.

Tokyo police have arrested 27-year-old Takahiro Shiraishi, who reportedly confessed to slicing the flesh off the bodies and throwing it in the trash, and then sprinkling cat litter over the remains to cover up the evidence.

According to local media, Shiraishi told police he had chopped up the bodies in a bathroom, while a saw was found in his room.

The police and journalists swarmed the nondescript apartment in the quiet residential neighbourhood of Zama, as locals struggled to comprehend how an act of such violence occurred so near them.

"It is really cruel. He used a saw to dismember the bodies. He must be abnormal to have done such things," said neighbour Hideaki Hosogaya, 83.

The Sankei Shimbun newspaper quoted another neighbour as saying he noticed an odour he had "never smelled before".

"I thought it was the smell of sewage," he said.

Police used blue tarps to block views inside the two-storey building and covered windows of the room where the bodies were discovered.

Japanese social media users were quick to draw parallels with Halloween.

One Twitter user wrote: "Nine dismembered bodies found on the day of Halloween. Humans are definitely scarier than ghosts."

Another said: "What a psychotic event on Halloween. I don't think I could bear 10 minutes with nine bodies around."

DISAPPEARANCE

The authorities had been investigating the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman and discovered a connection between her and Shiraishi.

This woman had earlier tweeted "I am looking for someone to die with me", according to the Sankei Shimbun.

An image from a security camera showed Shiraishi and the 23-year-old woman walking together last week, NHK reported.

She had been missing since Sept 21 and her older brother reported her disappearance to police, according to the Asahi Shimbun.

When police visited the apartment, they initially found two heads inside a cool box at the entrance before making the grisly discovery of other body parts, according to Japan news service Jiji Press.

"During the course of the investigation, the heads of nine bodies have been discovered" inside various coolers and containers in the apartment, private TV network TBS said.

For the time being, police arrested Shiraishi on a charge that he dismembered one body and placed it inside a cooler, a charge that he is not contesting, according to a spokesman at Tokyo Metropolitan Police.

Japan prides itself on a low crime rate but is no stranger to high-profile violent crimes.

Earlier last month, Hirobumi Komatsu, 32, was arrested on suspicion of stabbing his daughter to death.

He also admitted to torching the house, in which his wife and four other children were found dead.

In Japan's bloodiest crime for decades, Satoshi Uematsu faces charges of killing 19 people and attempting to kill or injure 24 others at a disability centre near Tokyo in July last year.

In 1997, a 14-year-old schoolboy decapitated an 11-year-old acquaintance and placed the head at the gates of his school.

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