Killings in tiny Japanese village prompt hunt for 'serial killer'
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
- Five bodies discovered in remote village in Western Japan; their house burned down
- A note, in the form of a poem, was found in the home of man police are hunting
- Hundreds of police searching for 63-year-old man who lived next to victims
Tokyo (CNN) -- Hundreds of police are involved in the hunt for a 63-year-old man in connection with the murder of five people in a remote Japanese hamlet. The victims' houses were also burned down.
A note, apparently written in the form of a "haiku" poem -- a typically short form of Japanese verse -- was left hanging in the window of the fugitive man's home next door to one of the burned out homes.
Three bodies were found on Sunday after two houses in Mitake, a tiny community in western Japan's Yamaguchi prefecture, were gutted by a "suspicious" fire, Yamaguchi police spokesman Katsumi Harada told CNN.
The following morning, two more corpses were found a few hundred meters away in the same neighborhood in the victims' respective homes.
An autopsy revealed that all five victims were killed by injuries to the head, prompting police to set up a task force to investigate a possible serial killer, Harada said.
Despite feverish media speculation, Harada refused to draw a link between the poem and the killings, though he said the man, who's been missing since Sunday, could provide valuable information about what happened. According to the authorities, the poem translated as: "Setting on fire, smoke gives delight, to country fellows."
Mitake is a remote, mountainous hamlet with only 16 inhabitants. According to local media, the man police are hunting lived alone and moved into the neighborhood about 20 years ago to take care of his elderly parents.
Reports suggested the man grew increasingly alienated in the small community after his parents died about 7-8 years ago. One of the victims frequently quarreled with him over his dog, according to Yomiuri Shimbun, Japan's largest newspaper.
Today's five most popular stories
Part of complete coverage on
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1331 GMT (2131 HKT)
A terminally ill woman who plans to take her own life checks off the last item.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0115 GMT (0915 HKT)
Armed with Kalashnikovs and chanting for the dead comrades, women are among ISIS' most feared enemies. They are fighting for their families -- and now they are getting U.S. help.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1246 GMT (2046 HKT)
Lere Mgayiya put his best foot forward and set up a shoe-shine firm after his career plans fell flat.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0528 GMT (1328 HKT)
One Chinese drone manufacturer wants to take away the warmongering stigma of "drones."
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 0312 GMT (1112 HKT)
Sketcher Luis Simoes is traveling the world -- slowly. And he's packed his sketchbook.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
European states help North Korea's brutal treatment of its people by allowing luxury goods like cars and cognacs to evade sanctions, two experts say.
October 29, 2014 -- Updated 1520 GMT (2320 HKT)
Groping, lewd comments, and that's not the worst of it.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 0133 GMT (0933 HKT)
British hostage John Cantlie appears from the battle city of Kobani.
October 28, 2014 -- Updated 1443 GMT (2243 HKT)
A captured fighter tells CNN's Ivan Watson: "They gave us drugs... that made you go to battle."
October 24, 2014 -- Updated 0345 GMT (1145 HKT)
Chinese leaders want less odd architecture built in the country.
October 30, 2014 -- Updated 1106 GMT (1906 HKT)
Each day, CNN brings you an image capturing a moment to remember, defining the present in our changing world.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.