The police in Yamaguchi Prefecture have revealed on Friday morning that they have arrested a 63-year-old man as suspect in the murder of five people in a mountain village on Sunday night. The media covering the investigation reported that the man was arrested when the police caught up to him in a little-used mountain trail, barefoot and wearing only his underwear. The prefecture had mobilized around 400 officers on Monday to help in the manhunt, search the area, and set up roadblocks. It is said that the suspect had abandoned his house, two cars and his dog.
The 5 people killed represent a third of the population of the small village – 3 were found dead with their houses burned down, while two others were killed in their homes. All of the victims were either stabbed to death or battered with a blunt weapon. The suspect, whose name is still being withheld by the police, has a reputation within the village as a troublemaker, if the other villagers are to be believed. According the police’s reconstruction of the events leading to the multiple deaths, the first three to be killed on the evening of Sunday were Makoto Sadamori, 71, his wife, Kiyoko, 72, and Miyako Yamamoto. Autopsy results reveal that the other two victims, Satoko Kawamura, 73, and Fumito Ishimura, 80 were killed after the two houses were burned down. Police say that the suspect may have gone back to the village after the fires and then killed both Ishimura and Kawamura.
A poignant, if a little bit strange side-note to this story was the presence of a haiku – traditional Japanese poetry – stuck on the window of the suspect’s house, which read “Setting on fire/ Smoke gives delight/ To a country fellow.” A neighbor testified that the poem had been in the window for some time now, giving strength to assumptions that the suspect might have been planning the murders well in advance. Others also say that the suspect had boasted to his neighbors that he would be exempt from the law if he murdered people, because he was on medication. It is not clear as of now what the man’s condition might be while in the custody of the police.