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Osaka woman denies killing acquaintance whose corpse found in refrigerator

Terumi Nagata
Terumi Nagata is on trial in the killing of acquaintance Sawako Watanabe in December of 2015 (Mainichi Broadcasting System)

OSAKA (TR) – A 31-year-old woman accused of killing and dismembering of the corpse of a female acquaintance denied the allegations at the opening of her trial last week, reports Jiji Press (June 14).

At the Osaka District Court on June 14, Terumi Morishima said, in a tearful voice, that she “did not participate in any way in the death” of Sawako Watanabe, 25, whose severed remains were found in two locations in December of 2015.

According to the indictment, Morishima allegedly strangled Watanabe to death in the apartment of the defendant in Kadoma City on December 24 or 25, 2015. Morishima, who also uses the surname Nagata, faces nine charges in the case, including murder and robbery and destruction of a corpse.

On December 29, police searched the apartment of Morishima and found a skull and other body parts inside the bathroom and a freezer. Investigative sources later revealed that Morishima had purchased a freezer, a saw, polyethylene bags and a bucket at a hardware store in Kadoma on December 25.

“I cut up her body”

According to a previous report, Morishima told police during questioning that she and Watanabe had been planning to hold a Christmas party at her residence. “After I left the apartment and returned, I found [Watanabe] collapsed and not breathing,” the suspect is quoted by police. “I then cut up her body to conceal it.”

Between August and the end of November, Morishima lived with Watanabe at a shared-living facility located about 300 meters away from the apartment. Police also found more body parts inside a closet at the facility.

In stating its case, the prosecution said that the defendant had conducted a search on the internet regarding how to kill a person and that she was mired in a large amount of debt. The defense countered by saying that the participation of a third party could not be ruled out.

The defendant is also alleged to have stolen a bank card belonging to the victim and withdrawn 100,000 yen in cash from a convenience store ATM.