The barrel, retrieved from a depth of approximately three meters, is believed to hold the body of a 54-year-old man who police suspect died after being physically abused at the residence of Miyoko Sumida, the central figure in a continuing investigation related to multiple suspicious deaths.
Sumida, 64, was previously indicted for the death of 66-year-old Kazuko Oe, whose body was discovered last November encased in concrete inside a drum stored in a warehouse in Amagasaki City, Hyogo. She is accused of inflicting injury resulting in death.
On October 14 and 15, police discovered three corpses under the unoccupied Amagasaki home of the 88-year-old grandmother of the wife of the son of Sumida. Sumida’s sister-in-law, 59-year-old Mieko Sumida, and daughter-in-law, Rui Sumida, 27, are under prosecution for stealing 3.7 million yen in pension money from the grandmother’s account.
Investigators later announced that one body found under was that of Mitsue Ando, 71, the girlfriend of Miyoko Sumida’s elder brother. The other two corpses are Mariko Nakashima (29), the older sister of Rui Sumida, and 68-year-old Takashi Tanimoto, whose elder brother was an acquaintance of Miyoko Sumida.
Police revealed last week that following the accidental death of the 51-year-old husband of Mieko Sumida during a sightseeing trip to Cape Manza in Okinawa in 2005, payouts of 90 million yen for insurance policies and a home mortgage exemption were made to the junior Sumida.
On July 1, 2005, a group of nine people, including both Miyoko and Mieko Sumida, their relatives, and friends, gathered for a photo session at the edge of a 30-meter cliff overlooking the ocean. While standing in the back of the group, the victim reportedly dropped to his death.
The man was the older brother of the missing man whose remains are believed to be inside the barrel raised on Tuesday.
According to the Sankei Shimbun (Oct. 29), police are currently investigating the insurance payout as a matter of fraud as witnesses have said that the man was coerced into committing suicide.
In 2000, a condominium, also located in Amagasaki, was purchased in the name of Mieko Sumida’s husband. A loan of 29.8 million yen was taken out for the purchase, with Ando, who was found under the Amagasaki home, as one guarantor. Mieiko Sumida later paid off the loan in full.
Police plan to open the barrel discovered on Wednesday to confirm its contents.
Investigators believe that more people seen regularly around the Amagasaki home are still missing, including the 88-year-old grandmother, who police have been told was buried at the home of a relative in Takamatsu City, Kagawa Prefecture. She has not been seen since 2003.