As police descended upon the apartment of Takahiro Shiraishi in Japan’s Kanagawa Prefecture, following up a lead provided by the brother of a 23-year-old missing woman, they may have been prepared for the possibility that the young woman was already dead.  She had begun interacting with Shiraishi on Twitter after posting about wanting to find someone to join her in committing suicide. Seeing the tweets, her brother grew concerned.  He used her account to locate Shiraishi once he realized his sister had gone missing.

What police likely didn’t expect, however, was to also find the remains of eight other people inside the tiny apartment.  They would come to find that Shiraishi had been quite busy in the past few months.

According to the statement provided by the 27-year-old man to the police upon his arrest, his killing spree began in late August when he was approached by a man who was, ironically, concerned about a missing young woman.  In this instance, it was a girlfriend.

“I invited him to my apartment and killed him,” Shiraishi told police.  He went on to explain what a grueling process dismembering the body was, recounting that it took him nearly three full days to do.  He then reported that he was able to expedite the dismemberment process considerably since then: “But from the second person, I was able to do it within a day.”

That would be the last man Shiraishi would kill, but he was far from his last victim.  He began luring young women to his apartment using the popular social media platform, Twitter.  All of the subsequent victims were young women, in their late teens through their twenties.

Shiraishi’s victims were all suicidal, according to the man, and he was able to convince them to come to his apartment on the promise that he would assist them in taking their own lives.  He also admitted that he took some $4,400 from one victim, and that he sexually assaulted or raped a number of the others.

When the police searched his apartment, they found severed heads and other body parts that Shiraishi had placed in cold storage containers, coolers and tool boxes.  Some of the body parts appeared to have been boiled to reduce them to bone, while others showed signs of Shiraishi cutting into them repeatedly.  As a result, police say it will take time to identify the DNA tied to the 240 bones recovered thus far.

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Shiraishi has been cooperative with the police investigation since being placed under the arrest on the initial charges of mutilating a corpse.

“There is no doubt that I tried to hide the body of the person I killed,” Shiraishi was quoted as telling the police, referring to one of the bodies. “I dismembered it in the bathroom, disposing of some body parts in the garbage.”  He placed the parts he chose to keep in sand, hoping it would mask the odor of decomposition.

Neighbors have expressed shock and surprise at the revelation that, just beyond the thin walls of their apartment building, Shiraishi was using a saw to dismember the bodies of nine people.  One neighbor called him “a cheerful, kind and polite man,” though added that they did think it was odd that Shiraishi kept a ventilation fan in his apartment running at all times.

These types of crimes are rare in Japan, particularly in Kanagawa Prefecture, where crime has been on a steady decline for years.  With a murder rate of 0.3 intentional homicides per 100,000 people (as compared to America’s 4.4), the region is widely considered to be an extremely safe area to live.   However, that has still not shielded Kanagawa from the recent trend of mass killings seen with increasing regularity around the globe.  Last year another man stabbed and killed 19 people at a center for the disabled in the town of Sagamihara in Kanagawa Prefecture.

Image courtesy of the Associated Press