Skip to main content

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

By Yoko Wakatsuki, CNN
updated 8:38 PM EDT, Wed July 24, 2013
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
updated 11:50 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Experts believe that ISIS may be using a Spanish enclave to bring jihad to Europe.
updated 9:00 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
With an efficient subway, inexpensive taxis and a good public bus system, Hong Kong is normally an easy city to navigate ...
updated 7:32 PM EDT, Sun September 28, 2014
CNN's Ivan Watson was in the middle of a pro-democracy protest in Hong Kong when things got out of hand.
updated 4:12 PM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
The world's animal population has halved in 40 years as humans put unsustainable demands on Earth, a new report warns.
updated 8:49 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Every day, refugees and migrants risk their lives as they seek a new life. Now, a new report puts a figure to the number of victims.
updated 10:42 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
Mainstream commentators must promote positive role models to Muslims feeling victimized, writes Ghaffar Hussain.
updated 2:13 AM EDT, Mon September 29, 2014
Two men familiar with inside knowledge of ISIS speak with CNN's Arwa Damon.
Explore CNN's interactive that explains ISIS' roots, what it controls, and where its support comes from.
updated 4:10 PM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
In his first-ever interview as the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani defended his country against allegations of funding terrorism.
updated 11:03 AM EDT, Sat September 27, 2014
The North Korean leader hasn't been seen for weeks, leading to speculation that he is in poor health.
updated 9:54 PM EDT, Tue September 23, 2014
Haider al-Abadi hopes airstrikes don't lead to "of another terrorist element" instead of ISIS.
updated 9:19 AM EDT, Thu September 25, 2014
The United States couldn't do it on its first try. Neither could the Soviets.
updated 11:29 AM EDT, Wed September 24, 2014
CNN's Nima Elbagir reflects on a harrowing trip to Liberia where she covered the deadliest Ebola outbreak in history.
updated 10:23 AM EDT, Fri September 26, 2014
Contrary to public opinion, rats can actually save lives -- Apopo's rats have actually saved thousands.
updated 9:36 AM EDT, Tue September 30, 2014
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.
ADVERTISEMENT