October 31, 2017 – The discovery of the heads of nine people in an apartment in a quiet residential area here has created shockwaves throughout the neighborhood.
Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, a resident of Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, has been arrested on suspicion of abandoning corpses in connection with the incident.
“I can’t believe that so many bodies were hidden at quite an ordinary apartment like that,” one neighbor said.
A 40-year-old man living on the first floor of the same apartment complex said police questioned him about the incident. “At around 4 p.m. on Oct. 30, police officers visited me, and asked me if I saw or know a thin man about 25 to 26 years old. They also asked me if I heard women scream,” he said.
A 23-year-old woman believed to be one of the victims had left a message, “I want to die, but I’m scared to do so alone,” on a Twitter account she had apparently opened. The woman is suspected to have been with Shiraishi.
Tokyo police investigators suspect that the woman, a resident of the western Tokyo city of Hachioji, contacted the suspect through Twitter and got involved in the incident.
She tweeted sometime around Sept. 19, saying, “If anyone is willing to die with me, send me a direct message.”
Six people responded to the message. Some of them posted comments offering to carry out a group suicide.
“How about doing so now?” one of the messages reads. “I’ll come and see you, so I’d like you to tell me the place,” another tweeted.
After the woman went missing, a man believed to be her brother asked about her whereabouts on an information website.
His message states that the woman had shut herself away from society since she had some trouble with other people when she was a first-year junior high school student, adding that she had an adjustment disorder and moved into an apartment where those with mental illnesses can receive assistance in early September.
The man says he has been unable to contact her since around 9 a.m. on Oct. 23.
“Even though I repeatedly sent messages to her on (the messaging application) Line, they were never read. I called her but she never responded,” the man wrote.
Sometime around Oct. 24, the battery in the woman’s mobile phone apparently went dead.
Meanwhile, a man familiar with a company that manages the apartment said Shiraishi moved into the apartment about two months ago. According to the man, Shiraishi’s father had called a real estate company managing the apartment complex in Zama and said his son “would like to move into the apartment immediately.” Shiraishi subsequently visited the company and signed a lease contract.
At the time, an employee of the real estate firm advised Shiraishi to sign a contract at the beginning of the following month because rent for the first month is free under such a contract. However, he apparently wanted to sign a contract as early as possible. “I’d like to move in even if I can’t receive such a discount,” he was quoted as telling the real estate company employee.