11/02/2017, 14.33
JAPAN
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Serial killer in Zama, Tokyo, “helped” suicidal people

Nine human heads and 240 bones and body parts were found in his flat. The mass murderer approached his prey on Twitter, pretending to share their suicidal thoughts. The series of murders began in late August. About 500,000 yen (US$ 4,390) were taken from the victims. An unmarried couple were the first to be killed. The victims were in their early twenties or younger.

Tokyo (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Takahiro Shiraishi, the serial killer in Zama (Kanagawa Prefecture), contacted his victims, mostly 17 to 20 in age, via the Internet and killed them to fulfil their desire for suicide, Tokyo police said.

The mass murderer (pictured) approached his victims on Twitter through various accounts including one called ‘hangingpro’.

Through the social networking service, Shiraishi replied to women who expressed suicidal feelings online with messages such as "Let's die together", pretending to share the same suicidal thoughts.

Police believe the 27-year-old man invited people who wished to die to his home in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture near Tokyo, where killed most of them.

Shiraishi moved to the flat at the end of August after which the series of murders began. He got rid of the personal effects of the victims but not their money, keeping about 500,000 yen (US$ 4,390).

Last Tuesday, the police found nine human heads and 240 pieces of bones and other body parts in his flat inside seven refrigerators, along with knives and other material used in the crimes.

Regarding the bodies, police quoted Shiraishi as telling them that he “threw away parts (of them) after dismembering them in the bathroom.”

The nine victims were believed to be a man around 20 years of age and eight women.

Shiraishi told police that out of the nine he killed, four were around 17 years old, four were aged around 20, and one was in the late 20s. He said he does not know the exact names and ages of the victims.

In trying to identify the victims, police are believed to be working on matching their DNA with a database of the DNA of missing people that has been collected since April 2015.

According to police, the first victims were an unmarried couple. In August, Shiraishi had a meal with the couple with whom he had become acquainted through Twitter. On a later day, he invited the woman to his apartment, where he killed her.

The woman’s boyfriend, unable to contact her, asked Shiraishi if he knew where she was. Shiraishi also invited him to the flat and killed him, fearing he might report her disappearance to police

Although declining, Japan’s suicide rate is the highest of the G7 countries, and remains a major social problem.

A total of 21,897 people took their own lives in 2016, down seven per cent from the peak of 34,427 in 2003.

Still, almost a quarter of all Japanese adults have seriously thought about suicide, this according to a survey whose findings were released last March by the Ministry of Health, Labour and Welfare.

The ratio of those who have thought about committing suicide was 23.6 per cent in 2016, up from 19.1 per cent in 2008 and 23.4 per cent in 2012.

Since 2014, suicide remains the leading cause of death for Japanese aged from their late teens to early thirties. After that, the suicide rate remains stable.

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