Deceased Shimane man prosecuted for murder after photos show woman’s corpse

Miyako Hiraoka
Miyako Hiraoka

SHIMANE (TR) – A man who died in a car accident in 2009 in Yamaguchi Prefecture has been accused in the murder of a 19-year-old female college student who went missing earlier that year after photos of her corpse were found among his personal articles, reports the Sankei Shimbun (Dec. 20).

On December 20, Yoshiharu Yano, who was 33 at the time of his death, was prosecuted on charges of murder and corpse mutilation and abandonment in the death of Miyako Hiraoka, a first-year student at a public university in Shimane Prefecture whose mutilated corpse was discovered in Hiroshima Prefecture in November of 2009.

As a part of a joint investigation by Hiroshima and Shimane prefectural police in October and November of this year, a USB stick and digital camera were found to contain 57 images showing the body of Hiraoka in a bathtub at his residence in Masuda City, Shimane.

Police suspect that Yano carved up Hiraoka’s corpse in that location before dumping it. An examination of the images revealed a knife and marks consistent with strangulation around her neck.

The victim was last seen leaving the ice cream parlor where she worked part-time in Hamada City, Shimane on the evening of October 26. On November 6, a mushroom collector found the head of Hiraoka at Mt. Garyu in neighboring Hiroshima Prefecture. Police later found her torso and other body parts nearby.

The results of an autopsy revealed the cause of death to be strangulation.

Yoshiharu Yano
Yoshiharu Yano

Yano, who is not believed to have been acquainted with the victim, became a person of interest earlier this year during an investigation into persons with histories of sex-related crimes. After it was learned that he may have been connected to Hiraoka’s death, a search of items related to him commenced and the images of her body found.

On November 8, 2009, Yano was killed in a fiery wreck on the Chugoku Expressway in Yamaguchi that also took the life of his mother.

An investigator tells Nikkan Gendai (Dec. 20) that the pair appear to have deliberately taken their own lives. “The vehicle, driven by Yano, had come to a halt with white smoke coming from the hood,” the investigator is quoted. “Both sides of the guardrail had been struck. The charred bodies of Yano and his mother, who was in the passenger seat, were found inside. With no signs of the wheels having slipped or the application of the brakes, the case is being treated as a double suicide.”

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