Since the start of the year, reports of a Kyoto woman who has been connected to a number of suspicious deaths in the Kansai area over the past few decades have filtered through the tabloid media.
Coverage in the mainstream press has been highly limited, with one reason possibly being that the woman, 67, has yet to be charged, or even named. However, reports Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug. 21-28), detectives in Kyoto and Osaka are on the case, and the number of potential victims is much higher than previously thought.
The matter first came to light following the death of the woman’s 75-year-old husband on December 28 of last year.
“He collapsed in his home in Muko City and was transported to a local hospital, where he died,” a local reporter tells the magazine. “A legally ordered autopsy revealed cyanide in his system.”
It was later learned that the woman had a relationship with another man, 71, who passed away on March 9 the year before after he fell off his motorcycle on a major road in Osaka. The cause of death was ruled to be a heart attack originating from an irregular heartbeat.
According to the aforementioned reporter, blood taken from the man during the autopsy had been saved by Osaka Prefectural Police, and an analysis also revealed the presence of cyanide compounds.
“During questioning by police, the woman repeatedly indicated that she knew nothing about cyanide,” an investigator tells Shukan Jitsuwa.
In the case of the 75-year-old man, she had married him a few months before his demise and was at the apartment at the time of his collapse. He was her fourth husband, but he could very well have been her fifth.
“As to the (71-year-old), they were living together (when he died),” the investigator says, “and marriage was likely.”
It has been speculated that her motive was the reception of inheritance money, and for good reason.
In the case of the 71-year-old who died in 2012, the woman received the title to his apartment. By the end of the year, she had sold the property, which, according to Shukan Jitswa, netted her more than 20 million yen.
A reporter for an evening newspaper says that the woman reaped more than that after the death of her third husband, a 75-year-old resident of Matsubara City, Osaka who died three months after their marriage in 2008.
“Including an agricultural property, the inheritance was 150 million yen,” says the reporter.
The March 28 issue of Shukan Post indicated that the total number of mysterious deaths in the case will eventually exceed 10. However, Shukan Jitsuwa says that the police are now looking into 14 victims.
“The breakdown (by prefecture) goes like this: five men in Osaka, three in Hyogo, two in Kyoto, two in Nara, and one in Wakayama and Shimane,” says a different investigator. “Osaka and Kyoto prefectural police are now conducting a full-blown investigation.”
In 1970, the woman, who was born in Kitakyushu, married an Osaka businessman. It was 24 years later that the string of suspicious deaths began.
“In 1994, her husband was hospitalized with heart trouble,” says an reporter for an evening paper. “Thereafter, he received permission to the leave the facility to go home temporarily, but he died suddenly.”
The woman proceeded to use the inheritance money she received following his death to reside in a number of locations, namely Kyoto, Hyogo, Nara and Wakayama. However, her funds ran out in 2003, and Osaka officials seized her home due to unpaid taxes.
“The following year (2004), she married a wealthy 67-year-old man in the pharmaceutical industry in Nishinomiya, Hyogo.”
However, two years later he died, also due to heart trouble. In a life insurance payout, the woman received 30 million yen.
A weekly magazine managed to interview the woman over a 40-minute period in front of her home in Osaka at the end of March of this year. During that session, she vehemently denied involvement in any of the deaths.
Source: “Osaka Kyoto renzoku dokubutsu shi jiken giwaku no 67sai rojo no shotai,” Shukan Jitsuwa (Aug. 21-28, pages 246-247)