Murder! / 殺人!

Murder! / 殺人!

Mrs M appeared on TV the other day, although anonymously and with her face pixillated out. This was because she was talking about a high school classmate of hers who, believe it or not, is a murder suspect, as reported in these two news items from the 16th June edition of the Ibaraki Newspaper:


Wife and her acquaintance arrested – Chiropractor under investigation – Murder suspect ‘worried about violence’

After an incident in which chiropractor Takayuki Sawada (37) was stabbed to death in a fifth-floor apartment in Hitachi-Naka City, police from Hitachi-Naka West Precinct have arrested Sawada’s wife Satsuki Sawada (38, also a chiropractor) and a customer at their clinic, junior nurse Akiyo Kikuchi (27) of East Ohnuma Town, Hitachi City, on suspicion of murder. According to sources close to the investigation,  Mrs Sawada has said, ‘I was worried about my husband’s violence in the home’. The same police precinct is looking at whether problems within the marriage were a motive for the killing.

According to the same police precinct, both suspects have confirmed the chain of events.

The two women are suspected of conspiring to murder Mr Sawada by stabbing him with a sharp-bladed weapon at around 4am on 14th June, in an apartment in East Ishikawa, Hitachi-Naka City.

Based on a statement by Ms Kikuchi, West Precinct police have discovered a kitchen knife and bloodstained clothing in Mito City centre. The knife appears to be from the Sawadas’ apartment.

The two suspects have said that, ‘Ms Kikuchi carried out the stabbing after Mrs Sawada let her into the apartment’. West Precinct police are looking at whether Kikuchi took the more active role in committing the crime, and at whether the apartment’s living room was the crime scene. An official autopsy is being performed on Mr Sawada’s body to determine the cause of death.

According to sources close to the investigation, Mr Sawada’s upper body had been stabbed numerous times, with stab wounds to his back and chest. Based on the fact that Mr Sawada had been stabbed both from the front and from behind, West Precinct police are regarding the stabbing as being with malicious intent.

West Precinct police transferred Mrs Sawada to Mito public prosecutor’s office on 15th June.


Possibility crime was planned

What can have gone on between the couple? After an incident in which a male chiropractor was murdered, the victim’s wife and a customer at the clinic the couple ran together have been arrested, and investigations into a motive for the crime and the chain of events that led up to it are now ongoing. According to sources close to the investigation, Ms Kikuchi has admitted that she visited the Sawada’s apartment. Mrs Sawada has said that, ‘I confided in Ms Kikuchi that I was worried about my husband’s violent behaviour,’ and Hitachi-Naka West Precinct are looking into the possibility that the two suspects had been planning the murder for some time.

Mrs Sawada called the emergency services at approximately 5.40am on 14th June and said, ‘My husband has fallen over, he’s covered in blood.’

‘When I got up this morning, my husband had fallen over,’ she explained.

An unemployed man in his sixties who lives in the same apartment block as Mrs Sawada said, ‘She was considerate and seemed like a very nice woman. I’m shocked [about the arrest].’

Ms Kikuchi was employed at a hospital in central Mito, and lived with her parents and older sister in Hitachi City. According to reporters, on the morning of 15th June, Ms Kikuchi’s family said, ‘[Ms Kikuchi] really admired Mrs Sawada.’

According to neighbours, Kikuchi was mild-mannered and courteous. Looking visibly shocked, a man in his forties said, ‘When you met her, she was the kind of girl who always bowed her head and said hello. That something like this has happened is unthinkable’.


Another high school classmate of Mrs M’s called to tell us what had happened as we were driving to the in-laws’, and while I was at Japanese class later in the evening, a reporter and cameraman turned up and filmed the interview, along with some footage of Mrs M looking at her high school yearbook.

Even though Mrs M was a member of the high school student council, and came in more regular contact with her contemporaries than most, she can’t remember much about Kikuchi, and hadn’t even realised they were in the same class together beyond the first year until she looked at the yearbook. Apparently Kikuchi was quiet without being obviously neurotic, although the reporter’s questions were very much of the ‘So you’re saying she didn’t have many friends?’ variety, and seemed to justify otoh-san’s suspicions about news reporters and their sensationalist tendencies.

When the interview was screened the following morning I had already left for work, but I saw an item on the evening news that filled in some of the details of the case.

As well as being a patient at the chiropractic clinic, Kikuchi helped out there in her spare time, and having befriended Kikuchi, Sawada sold her three hand-made ‘power stone’ bracelets. These have been fashionable in Japan for a few years, and allegedly possess healing powers, which must have been why Kikuchi was willing to fork out the equivalent of a hundred pounds each for them. The reason Kikuchi owned several, a friend of hers explained, was that a power stone needs to be taken off on a regular basis and left for a day or two so that its ‘power’ can be replenished.

Surprisingly, Kikuchi’s family also appeared in the report (although like Mrs M on the morning news, their faces were blurred) and said that in the weeks leading up to the murder, Kikuchi was ‘in a dark mood’, ‘unusually quiet’ and ‘worried about something’.

Another interviewee said that Sawada had suffered broken teeth and broken ribs, so one can only assume the allegations of domestic violence were true, although it was the manner in which Sawada did away with her husband that makes the story so intriguing. The word sen-noh (洗脳 / brainwashing) was used several times in the news report, and she appears to have preyed on Kikuchi’s vulnerability in order, ultimately, to use her not just as an accomplice but as a kind of hired killer. Ironically, the more you find out about the case, the more Kikuchi begins to seem like the innocent party, even though she was the one who allegedly wielded the murder weapon.

As newsreaders are fond of saying, more on this story as we get it, and in the meantime, here are the Ibarkai Newspaper items in the original Japanese:


茨城新聞2011年(平成23年)6月16日木曜日

整体師視察

妻と知人の女逮捕

殺人容疑「暴力悩んでいた」

ひたちなか市東石川のマンション5階の部屋で、整体師、澤田孝幸さん(37)が刺殺された事件で、ひたちなか西署は15日夜、殺人の疑いで、澤田さんの妻で整体師、さつき容疑者(38)と夫婦が経営する整体院の客で日立市東大沼町4丁目、准看護師、菊池明代容疑者(27)を逮捕した。捜査関係者によると、さつき容疑者は「夫の家庭内暴力に悩んでいた」と供述している。同署は夫婦間の不仲が動機とみて調べている。

同署によると、2人とも「その通り、間違いありません」と容疑を認める。

2人の逮捕容疑は共謀して14日午前4時ごろ、ひたちなか市東石川のマンション室内で、澤田さんの体を刃物で数回突き刺し、殺害した疑い。

同署は菊池容疑者の供述に基づき、水戸市内で凶器の包丁と血がついた衣服を発見。包丁は澤田さん宅にあったものとみられる。

2人は「さつき容疑者が菊池容疑者を部屋に入れて菊池容疑者が刺した」と供述。同署は菊池容疑者が犯行の実行役、殺害場所はマンションの居間とみている。同署は澤田さんの遺体を司法解剖して死因を調べる。

捜査関係者によると、澤田さんの遺体は上半身を複数回刺され、背中以外に胸にも刺し傷があった。同署は澤田さんが前と後ろの両側から刺されていたことから、強い殺意があったとみている。

同署は15日、さつき容疑者を水戸地検に送致した。


計画的犯行の可能性も

夫婦の間で何があったのか。整体師の男性が殺害された事件は、妻と、夫婦が経営する整体院の客の女が逮捕され、今後、犯行の経緯や動機の解明が進められることになった。捜査関係者によると、菊池容疑者は「澤田さんのマンションを訪れたことがある」と供述。さつき容疑者は「夫の暴力に悩んでいると菊池容疑者に打ち明けた」と話しており、ひたちなか西署は知り合いの2人が以前から殺害の計画を立てていた可能性があるとみている。

さつき容疑者は14日午前5時40分ごろ、「夫が血だらけで倒れている」と110番通報。「朝起きたら、夫が倒れていた」と説明していた。

さつき容疑者と同じマンションに住む無職の60代の男性は「気配りの利く素敵な奥さんだった。(逮捕に)衝撃を受けた」と語った。

菊池容疑者は水戸市内の病院に勤務。日立市で両親、姉と暮らしていた。菊池容疑者の家族は15日朝、取材に対し「(菊池容疑者は)さつき容疑者のことをとても尊敬していた」と話した。

近所の人によると、菊池容疑者は穏やかで礼儀正しかったという。40代男性は「会えば頭を下げてあいさつする子だった。こんな事件を起こすとは考えられない」と驚いた表情見せた

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