Skip to main content

Killings in tiny Japanese village prompt hunt for 'serial killer'

By Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
July 25, 2013 -- Updated 0038 GMT (0838 HKT)
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • 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.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0023 GMT (0823 HKT)
Wilson Raj Perumal tells CNN how he rigged World Cup games: "I was giving orders to the coach."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2236 GMT (0636 HKT)
A 9-year-old girl learning to fire a submachine gun accidentally killed her instructor at a shooting range, according to Arizona authorities.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1255 GMT (2055 HKT)
ISIS has made surprise gains in Iraq and Syria in recent months, but may begin to suffer setbacks on the battlefield.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 1844 GMT (0244 HKT)
The fear of Russian invasion is receding but peace may still be tricky to find.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1228 GMT (2028 HKT)
Was a police officer justified in shooting and killing Michael Brown?
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 0815 GMT (1615 HKT)
Don't like the country you live in? Meet the people who created their own "micronations."
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 2157 GMT (0557 HKT)
The signs exist that indicate U.S. airstrikes into Syria are on the way.
August 27, 2014 -- Updated 1649 GMT (0049 HKT)
The mother of a hostage freed after two years captivity says it's not time to party.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0946 GMT (1746 HKT)
We asked you what you would like to know about Ebola. Experts answer some of your most common questions and concerns.
CNN joins the fight to end modern-day slavery by shining a spotlight on its horrors and highlighting success stories.
Browse through images from CNN teams around the world that you don't always see on news reports.
August 26, 2014 -- Updated 0600 GMT (1400 HKT)
"I just love it when I get milk-to-dark converts," says Kerrin Rousset, before she leads a small cocoa-hungry crowd through Zurich's Old Town.
ADVERTISEMENT