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Japanese killer admits to targeting women contemplating suicide: ‘I want to help people who are really in pain’

Suspect Takahiro Shiraishi (C) covers his face with his hands as he is transported to the prosecutor's office from a police station in Tokyo on November 1, 2017.
Suspect Takahiro Shiraishi (C) covers his face with his hands as he is transported to the prosecutor's office from a police station in Tokyo on November 1, 2017.

A Japanese man has admitted to a Tokyo court that he killed and dismembered nine people in 2017, eight of whom he reached out to via Twitter.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, told the court on Wednesday that he reached out to eight women who had expressed thoughts of suicide on their Twitter pages and invited them to his house in Zama, 40 km southwest of Tokyo. There, he sexually assaulted and strangled them.

He also robbed some of the women, the court heard.

The prosecution argued that Shiraishi opened a Twitter account in March 2017 to contact women contemplating suicide, whom they claim he saw as ‘easy targets.’ His Twitter profile read: “I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM [direct message] me anytime.”

The victims’ ages ranged between 15 and 27. The ninth victim was the boyfriend of one of the women, who was allegedly murdered after he confronted Shiraishi at his apartment about his girlfriend’s whereabouts.

Shiraishi was caught in October 2017, after the brother of one of the victims found messages from him on the victim’s Twitter account. The brother asked a female acquaintance to set up a meeting with Shiraishi and then told the police. When police visited his apartment, Shiraishi told them that the body of the woman they were looking for was stored in the freezer. Police also found body parts from all nine victims stored in cooler boxes and other containers.

“I killed them and did some work on the bodies in order to hide the evidence,” Shiraishi told the police, according to the public broadcaster NHK.

Shiraishi’s neighbours told investigators that they had noticed smells coming from the apartment after he moved in August 2017, but hadn’t reported anything.

If convicted, Shiraishi could face the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan. His lawyers argued that the murder charges should be reduced to ‘murder with consent’ as his victims had agreed to be killed. Lowering the murder charges would mean a prison sentence of between six months and seven years.

However, Shiraishi reportedly disagrees with his lawyers and told the court that all allegations against him are ‘correct.’

“There were bruises on the back of the victims’ heads. It means there was no consent and I did it so that they wouldn’t resist,” he told Mainichi Shimbun , a local daily.

Shiraishi is to be sentenced on Dec. 15.

The murders have also triggered a clampdown by Japanese authorities and Twitter on websites where suicide is discussed. The social media giant changed its rules to state that users should not ‘promote or encourage suicide or self-harm.’

At the time, Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey called the case ‘extremely’ sad.


For those with suicidal thoughts, or if you are concerned about a friend or loved one, please contact the Canadian Suicide Prevention Service at 1-833-456-4566 or text 45645 between 4 pm and midnight ET.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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