The Silencing of the Lambs
By Charles T. Whipple
Shortly after 3 pm on August 22, 1988, four-year-old Mari
Konno left her home in the Iruma Village apartment complex in Saitama to
play at her friend's hours. At 6:23 pm, after she failed to return,
architect Shigeo Konno, struggling to quell his panic, called the police
to report that his daughter was missing. About the same time as Konno's
phone call, in a dark forest 50 km away, Mari was being slowly strangled
made her way through the complex earlier that afternoon, a Nissan
Langley sedan had pulled up nearby, and a man had climbed out of the
driver's seat. "Wouldn't you like to go somewhere where it's cool?" he
asked. Mari nodded and taking his hand, skipped towards the car.
Mari played happily with the buttons on the radio, the car purred down
National Highway No. 16 toward Hachioji in western Tokyo. Just before
reaching Musashino Bridge, it swung right onto a road leading towards
Itsukaichi. An hour and a half after it had left Iruma Village, the car
came to a halt on a narrow dirt road in the woods near the Shintama
power station, which loomed like a mammoth gravestone above the trees.
and Mari got out of the car and walked down a mountain path fringed by
hinoki and sugi trees to where the hiking trail toward Komine Pass
begins. The cicadas were in full cry and the mountain doves cooed in the
stifling heat. After 20 or 30 minutes, the two sat down at a spot some
20 meters off the path.
tired; she might also have been frightened, because she began to
sniffle. The man panicked. What if she started to bawl? The hiking
course was a popular one, and someone might hear. But he had no
intention of returning her to her parents.
Mari's face froze in surprise, the man put his hands on her throat,
thumbs on the larynx, and squeezed the life from her tiny body. When she
finally went limp, he reverently undressed and fondled her. Then he laid
her out as if in repose, bundled up her shorts, panties, shirt, and
shoes, and walked, unnoticed, out of the forest and back to his car.
the brief life of Mari Konno. And so began the murderous career of
Tsutomu Miyazaki, a 26-year-old printer's assistant. By the time he was
arrested, Miyazaki had strangled and sexually abused three other young
girls, terrorized a whole prefecture, and for 11 months, evaded an
unprecedented police hunt for the man responsible for "The Little Girl
police finally apprehended Miyazaki, they entered his home to find 6,000
videotapes of kiddy porn, splatter flicks, and cartoons. Among the
grisly collection were videos and photos of his victims. It was evident
that, for Miyazaki, his killing spree was little more than an extension
of a lonely fantasy world. "It was like a game to him--a one-man play,"
said Akira Ishii, a law professor at Aoyama Gakuin University and
psychotherapist who followed the case closely. The case of Tsutomu
Miyazaki, Interprefectural Felon No.117, ground its way through the
courts. This fall (1993)the psychological evaluation that should finally
decide Miyazaki's fate--and lay to rest the ghosts of four murdered
girls--will be announced. This is the second time the court has ordered
an investigation into the crucial question: Is Miyazaki mad or bad? The
answer will dictate whether or not Miyazaki is held criminally
responsible for his crimes and will decide his sentence. "Miyazaki's
crimes were thrill killings of a rare kind," concluded Dr. Susumu Oda, a
psychologist at Tsukuba University. "Yet you could call him a textbook
of Tsutomu Miyazaki's life began in Itsukaichi, Tokyo, on August 21,
1962, where he was prematurely born. He weighed only 2.2 kg, and the
joints in his hands were fused together, making it impossible for him to
bend his wrists upwards. The deformation haunted him from early on. When
he was five years old, a classmate teased him about his "funny hands."
In family photos after that, Miyazaki never showed his hands, and his
eyes were often closed.
time he reached Itsukaichi Elementary School, Miyazaki was almost
invisible. When he is remembered at all by teachers and classmates, it
is as a quiet, lonely child who seemed utterly incapable of making
friends. But young Tsutomu, like any other boy, did have dreams; in the
third grade, he wrote an essay: "When I grow up, I want to buy a car and
go driving. I'll stop at a restaurant and eat some curry rice or
something. I might even visit my relatives." More often than not,
however, he increasingly blamed his deformed hands for his inability to
achieve anything concrete. He began to stay up into the night reading
was clearly a clever child. Locked in his own isolated world, he studied
hard, and became the first student from his junior high school to pass
the entrance exam to Meidai Nakano High School. He commuted two hours
each way, every day, for three years, but eventually began to lose
interest in his studies. Instead of joining his fellow students,
Miyazaki would retreat to a quiet corner to work on another home-drawn
comic book. His plan--to enter Meiji University (with which the high
school was affiliated), major in English and become a teacher--was over
by his final year, when he ended up 40th in a class of 56, with grades
so poor that he failed to receive the customary recommendation to the
university. Naturally, he blamed his handicap.
settled for a photo-technician's course at a junior college and, after
graduation in the spring of 1983, went to work at a printing plant owned
by an acquaintance of his father. After thee years, during which he
saved more than 3 million yen, he moved back to the family home, where
he shared with his eldest sister a two-room annex to the main house near
his father's printing business. Known around town for his unfailing
courtesy, Katsumi Miyazaki owned the _Akikawa Shimbun_, a major local
newspaper in the Itsukaichi area, Tokyo's most inland point. There, the
Miyazaki family had considerable political influence.
family had little influence over Tsutomu, however. His workaholic father
was more interested in collecting political video clips and the latest
cameras--enthusiasms that would echo grimly in his son's crimes.
Miyazaki's mother Rieko also worked, but tried to compensate by buying
Tsutomu gifts, such as the Nissan Langley sedan in which two of his
victims died. "If I tried to talk to my parents about my problems,
they'd just brush me off," Miyazaki confessed to police. "I even thought
about suicide," he said.
Miyazaki's two younger sisters, Setsuko and Haruko, merely found him
repulsive. Only his grandfather Shokichi, a widely regarded man who had
served on the city council, seemed to take a genuine interest in the
avoided women his own age, perhaps because he was physically immature.
"His penis is no thicker than a pencil and no longer than a toothpick,"
a high-school classmate remarked. Yet his sex drive was stronger than
average. At college, he took his still and video cameras to the tennis
courts to take crotch shots of female players. He also soon tired of
adult porn magazines. "They black out the most important part," he
complained. So, by 1984, he had turned to child porn, which shows
everything, since obscenity laws ban the showing of pubic hair, not sex
boy, he made no close friends and therefore gained no information about
sex in the real world," said Oda. "Instead, he turned to videos, comics,
and pornography for his thrills." Oda also believes that Miyazaki
thought himself important because of his small penis and deformed hands.
did Miyazaki's unnatural vices lead him to kill? As Prof. Ishii at
Aoyama Gakuin University pointed out, "People grow up in similar
environments yet never become murderers."
trigger seems to have been the death of his grandfather in May 1988,
three months before the first murder. His grandfather had been his only
warm adult relationship, and the death marked the breaking of Miyazaki's
last bonds with society. Miyazaki later said that he even ate some of
his grandfather's cremated bones--a claim that Shunsuke Serizawa, a
literary critic and witness for Miyazaki's defense, believes. "He wanted
to reincarnate his grandfather, and believed that this reincarnation
would not be complete if any of his grandfather's body remained,"
grandfather's demise also complemented Miyazaki's estrangement from his
family. Once, when his youngest sister yelled at him for peeking at her
in the bath, he burst in and smashed her head against the bathtub.
Later, when his mother suggested he spend more time at work and less
with his videos, Miyazaki exploded and beat her. Miyazaki's father had
long since given up trying to talk to him.
all alone," Miyazaki explained later. "And whenever I saw a little girl
playing on her own, it was almost like seeing myself."
of those little girls to die from Miyazaki's attentions was Mari Konno.
After her disappearance, police squad cars with loudspeakers patrolled
the streets warning parents to keep their children in sight at all
times. Although it was officially tagged as a missing person case, "the
police started the investigation as a murder right from the beginning,"
said a journalist who followed the Miyazaki case.
Eventually, the police spent 2,930 man-days interviewing people around
Mari's home and sent 50,000 posters with Mari's picture to police,
train, subway, and bus stations across the nation. Nothing came of these
efforts. Not even police dogs could pick up the girl's scent.
said they had seen Mari walking behind a man toward the nearby Iruna
River, and the _Asahi Shimbun_ interviewed a 38-year-old housewife who
had spotted Mari with a stranger. Apart from the age, the description
was accurate: late thirties, about 170 cm tall; face: round and pudgy
with curly hair; clothes: white slacks and a white summer sweater. There
was only one other potential clue. A few days after Mari disappeared,
Yukie Konno, Mari's mother, received a postcard with a haunting message
after she had expressed hope in a news bulletin that her daughter was
still alive. "There are devils about," it read. The police dismissed the
note as the act of a crank.
fruitless hunt for Mari Konno eventually dwindled after four weeks. In
September, Sayama Hikari Gakuen Kindergarten began its new term without
her. Since the police had received no demands from a kidnapper and found
no body, her file, categorized under _missing persons_, lay dormant. But
many parents in the area were taking no risks. "From the time Mari
disappeared until Miyazaki was caught, parents led their children to
kindergarten every day," recalled one mother.
after Mari's disappearance, Miyazaki struck again. Driving through
Hanno, Saitama Prefecture, on the afternoon of October 3, 1988, he
spotted Masami Yoshizawa, a seven-year-old first-grader, walking along
the roadside. He coaxed her into his car, drove to the hills above
Komine Pass--the scene of his first murder--and strangled her to death.
Then he stripped her--quickly, before rigor mortis set in--and sexually
abused the corpse.
little body shuddered involuntarily, Miyazaki, frightened, ran back to
his car and drove off. He left her remains less than 100 meters from
where the bones of Mari Konno lay whitening in the sun.
was reported missing later that night, local search parties fanned out
across the area. Soon Masami's face stared down from hundreds of posters
issued by the police, who subsequently spent over 2,300 man-days
interviewing local residents. Again, no clues to the girl's whereabouts
were found. Masami's home is only 13 km from Mari's. The police were
suspicious enough to compare the two cases, but had neither leads nor
bodies. Masami, too, was declared a missing person.
Masami had upset Miyazaki, but he would kill again before 1988 was over.
The December 12 murder of a four-year-old from Kawagoe, however, would
be different. First, Miyazaki would nearly be caught. Second, the body
would be discovered soon after the act, setting off a murder hunt that
would compel police to reassess the disappearance of Mari and Masami,
and confirm the worst fears of many Saitama residents: that there was a
serial child killer on the loose.
never displayed much concern for life. "I've killed cats," he later said
casually. "Threw one in the river. Did another in with boiling water."
He also throttled his own dog to death with a strand of wire. His
absorption in a video world, explains Oda, "removed his consciousness
from reality. Everything became an item to him, including people. The
little girls he killed were no more than characters from his comic-book
Namba was returning from a friend's house when Miyazaki lured her into
his sedan. She was crying by the time he pulled into the parking area at
the Youth Nature House in Naguri. He told Erika to undress in the back
seat, then began to photograph her, the strobe flashing in the dark.
drove by, its headlights sweeping momentarily across Miyazaki's face.
Erika began sobbing again. Miyazaki grabbed her by the throat and
straddled her, holding her kicking body down with his weight as he
strangled her. By 7 pm, his third victim was dead. Miyazaki carefully
wrapped the body in a sheet and put it in the trunk. Then he disposed of
her clothes in the woods behind the parking area and drove off.
Miyazaki's mind clearly wasn't on the road. As he turned a corner, one
of the Langley's front wheels slipped into the gutter; the car was
stuck. So he switched on the hazard lights, and disappeared into the
dark woods with the sheet-wrapped body in his arms. He returned with the
crumpled sheet to find two men standing by his car. Casually opening the
trunk to put the sheet away, he explained his problem to the men, who
then helped lift the car out of the rut. Miyazaki got in, and without a
word of thanks, sped away.
time, the Kawagoe police immediately connected Erika Namba's
disappearance with that of Mari Konno and Masami Yoshizawa, and the
Saitama prefectural office set up a special operations center to solve
the three _missing persons_ cases. The next day, a worker at the Naguri
Youth Nature House found some of Erika's clothes, and hundreds of police
began combing the area. Meanwhile, the PTA at Erika's kindergarten
pasted handbills around the apartment complex where the Namba family
found Erika's corpse the next day, its hands and feet bound with nylon
cord. The murder scene was 50 km from Erika's home, a journey of about
an hour and forty-five minutes. Five hundred riot police explored the
woods for more clues, but found nothing.
men who had helped Miyazaki with his car on the night of the murder came
forward to identify it. They correctly recalled that the car had
Hachioji plates, but misidentified the model as a Toyota Corolla II--an
error the police realized only after they had checked out more than
6,000 Corolla IIs. This blunder deprived investigators of what could
have been their strongest lead.
the macabre light of the recovery of Erika's body, the disappearance of
Mari and Masami pointed strongly toward a more serious crime. All the
girls were from Saitama Prefecture; all lived within 30 km of each
other. "As soon as they found the body of the third girl, they began to
treat it as a serial murder case," said a police journalist.
found that the families had something else in common: they had all be
bothered by strange phone calls. The phone would ring, but when
answered, the person on the other end would say nothing; if they didn't
pick up it up, the phone would ring for up to 20 minutes.
than a week after his daughter's murder, Shin'ichi Namba, like the
Konnos, received a postcard. It was formed from kanji characters cut
from magazines and newspapers, then photocopied and enlarged to conceal
their origin. It read: "Erika. Cold. Cough. Throat. Rest. Death."
for Mari and Masami led nowhere. No clues were unearthed that shed light
on Erika's murder. Hardly a day passed when television reports didn't
cover the cases. AFter the discovery of Erika's body, the atmosphere of
apprehension among Saitama's parents and teachers turned to alarm. An
_Asahi Shimbun_ editorial at the end of 1988 caught the mood of subdued
panic. "In the end," it read, "we must depend on the police . . . . So
se add our plea: investigators, redouble your efforts."
would not kill again until the following summer. But he was still busy.
At about 6 am, on his way to work on February 6, Shigeo Konno, Mari's
father, found a box on his doorstep and called the police. Along with
ashes, dirt, fragments of charred bones, and 10 baby teeth, it also
contained photos of a child's shorts, underwear, and sandals--and a
single sheet of copier paper with five words on it: "Mari. Bones.
Cremated. Investigate. Prove." Miyazaki had returned to the death site,
as he had done several times, and removed the remains.
small teeth found among the ashes were immediately turned over to the
legal division of the Tokyo Dental University for examination, where Dr.
Kazuo Suzuki concluded the probably did not belong to Mari. After a
police press conference announced this finding, Suzuki changed his mind,
to the agony of the Konno family. His examination was mistaken, he said;
the remains might be Mari's after all. Then a police forensic expert
gave his verdict on the 220 grams of bone fragments: they were not only
human, they were Mari Konno's.
avidly following news reports, heard only the original verdict--that the
teeth were not Mari's--and immediately sat down to write. On February
11, a three-page letter arrived at the Konno home. The society desk of
the _Asahi Shimbun_ also received a copy, along with a Polaroid-type
photo of Mari. The letter was entitled "Crime Confession" and signed
"Yuko Imada," a pun on "Now I'll tell."
the cardboard box with Mari's remains in it in front of her home," it
began. "I did everything. From the start of the Mari incident to the
finish. I saw the police press conference where they said the remains
were not Mari's. On camera, her mother said the report gave her new hope
that Mari might still be alive. I knew then that I had to write this
confession so Mari's mother would not continue to hope in vain. I say
again: the remains are Mari's."
confession caused an uproar. The next day, the Saitama police finally
classified the Mari Konno case as a homicide, and set up a special
center to investigate her abduction and murder. Handwriting experts
examined the confession note but could not establish the author's sex.
Over a half million police leaflets quoting the confession were
delivered to houses in the areas where the girls lived.
police did, however, correctly identify the snapshot of Mari as one
taken with a Mamiya 6x7 camera "like those used by printers"--another
clue that was perhaps inadequately followed up; they also rightly
concluded that the box was the double-walled corrugated kind often used
to ship camera lenses. The typeface on the postcards was determined to
have come from a phototypesetter, and copied on an industrial copier.
Police later refused to comment on whether or not they launched an
investigation of printing shops in the area.
Konnos waited three weeks before the police officially announced that
the box contained the remains of their daughter. The box contained
almost an entire skeleton of a four- or five-year-old girl; and two of
the teeth matched perfectly with X-rays of her dental work. On March 11,
1989--over seven months after she was declared missing--Mari was laid to
rest. "Her hands and feet didn't seem to be with the remains," said
Shigeo Konno at the funeral. "When she gets to heaven, she won't be able
to walk or eat. Please return the rest of her remains."
nightmare wasn't over.
Konnos returned home from the funeral to find another letter from "Yuko
Imada." This one, labeled simply "Confession," chronicled the changes
Miyazaki had observed in Mari's dead body: "Before I knew it, the
child's corpse had gone rigid. I wanted to cross her hands over her
breast but they wouldn't budge. . . . Pretty soon, the body gets red
spots all over it . . . . Big red spots. Like the _Hinomaru_ flag. Or
like you'd covered her whole body with red _hanko_ seals. . . . After a
while, the body is covered with stretch marks. It was so rigid before,
but now it feels like its full of water. And it smells. How it smells.
Like nothing you've ever smelled in this whole wide world."
of hints offered by "Yuko Imada," the police were unable to pick up
Miyazaki's trail. Some observers have interpreted the letters as
Miyazaki's gloating at the society that he felt had shunned him. Prof.
Akira Ishii disagrees: "None of it had any social meaning for him. It
was just like playing a video game--you know, 'plus one point for
causing a sensation.' He wasn't trying to gain society's recognition. He
had a society in his mind, of which he was the nucleus."
summer of 1989, Miyazaki was growing restless. He skipped work more
often to spend hours sitting crosslegged in his room, editing his
precious videotapes. On the first day of June, he saw girls playing near
the Akishima Elementary School, and coaxed one of them to take her
panties off. As he began to photograph her, some neighbors spotted him
and chased him off. Despite this close call, Miyazaki butchered his
fourth victim five days later.
6, he left his bungalow for the tennis courts at Ariake, near Tokyo Bay,
but the courts were closed. In a nearby park, he found five-year-old
Ayako Nomoto playing alone. Casually removing the lens cap from his
camera, Miyazaki approached Ayako and asked her to pose for pictures. He
then took several shots until Ayako got used to him. "Let's take some
shots inside the car," he coaxed, leading her to his Langley.
parked some 800 meters away as Ayako bounced in the back seat. As he
handed her a stick of gum, the young girl commented on his deformed
hands. Enraged, Miyazaki pulled on a pair of vinyl gloves. "Here's what
happens to kids who say things like that," he growled, seizing her by
the throat. "She kicked and kicked, but went limp in four or five
minutes," he later confessed. To make sure she was dead, he taped her
mouth and tied her hands with vinyl rope, then wrapped the body in a
sheet and put it in the trunk of the car.
time, he took the body home, stopping at a video shop in Koenji to rent
a camera. The house was dark when he parked next to the two-room
bungalow. He waited two hours, then carried the tiny corpse inside,
where he stripped off the clothes and wiped it with a towel. He laid it
on the low _kotatsu_ table, spread the legs and taped the vagina apart.
He then took photographs and videos while he masturbated. Afterwards, he
bound up the hands and feet again with nylon cord and covered the body
with three sheets.
later, the odor of the decomposing corpse became unbearable. Although he
was right in believing that police were nowhere near identifying him as
the "Little Girl Murderer," Miyazaki knew he had to dispose of the body.
With a knife and a saw, he hacked off the cadaver's head, hands, and
feet to hamper identification. Then he hid the torso near the public
toilet at Hanno's Miyazawa-ko cemetery at midnight, four days after the
murder. He roasted Ayako's hands in his back yard, ate some of her
flesh, and tossed what remained, including the skull, into the woods of
Mitakeyama, a 230-meter hill in front of his house.
the risk of having the remains so near his home, he retrieved and hid
them two weeks later in a bag in the storeroom behind his bedroom.
Later, he scattered the bones in the woods, then burned the hair, the
clothes, and the blood-stained plastic bags and sheets.
later, after police had distributed 10,000 handbills with Ayako's
description and picture, the little girl's mutilated torso was
discovered at the cemetery. Despite Miyazaki's butchery, the remains
were quickly identified. The blood type and chest size matched those of
Ayako Nomoto, reported missing by her mother at 8:40 pm on June 6. The
stomach contents matched Ayako's last meal.
end, Miyazaki's gruesome career was cut short by a citizen, despite the
massive police forces pitted against him.
Sunday, July 23, 1989, two sisters were playing near a public washstand
in Hachioji, when a young man stopped his car and got out. "You stay
here," he told the elder nine-year-old, cajoling the younger child
toward a nearby river. But the older sister ran home for her father, who
sprinted back to find his daughter naked, with a young man focusing a
camera between her legs. He grabbed him and knocked him down. The man
twisted away and ran to the swampy edge of the river to escape. Then,
incredibly, he returned to his car where the Hachioji police, who had
already been called, apprehended Tsutomu Miyazaki on the charge of
"forcing a minor to commit indecent acts."
police clearly believed they had found their serial killer. One Saitama
housewife remembers how house-to-house police questioning in her
apartment complex ended abruptly on the day the news broke, though
nothing was officially revealed of the suspect's involvement in other
crimes. "Even then, television reports were saying he was the serial
killer," she recalled. The news media were so convinced that Miyazaki
was the man that they beat the police to the Miyazaki home, where they
filmed Tsutomu's room.
days later, Miyazaki confessed to murdering Ayako nomoto, whose skull
was found the next day in the hills of Okutama. The other confessions
followed swiftly: first, the murder of Erika Namba; then Mari Konno, of
whom video clips were discovered among the 6,000 tapes in Miyazaki's
lair. By mid-September, after a preliminary psychological test by NPA
psychiatrists concluded that Miyazaki showed "No immediately apparent
disorders," he confessed to the fourth of the "Little Girl Murders."
September 6, Masami Yoshizawa's remains were found in the forest near
Komine Pass, Itsukaichi. The half-chewed bones of Mari Konno's hands and
feet were discovered nearby a week later. Her father's plea for the
return of his daughter's hands and feet had finally been answered.
police have tracked down Miyazaki sooner?
Miyazaki's arrest and subsequent confessions, the police were far from
identifying the murderer, despite an intense and costly investigation.
"It's almost impossible to catch a murderer when there's no relationship
between them and the victims," a police journalist explained. "It
becomes just a matter of luck." In Erika's case alone, more than 600
calls from the citizens of Hanno kept the police occupied for days.
the National Police Agency had got involved sooner?
when the FBI moves in, all information would have been immediately
relayed from local police to a national center; the NPA would have also
helped foot the mammoth bill for the manhunt. But the NPA's sphere of
influence dictated that it could not get involved until an incident
occurred in Tokyo. The NPA did set up a missing persons team after Ayako
went missing in Tokyo, but this, according to an NPA source, does not
constitute an investigation. The NPA's real involvement began only when
Miyazaki started confessing.
Miyazaki's father refused to hire a lawyer for his son. "It wouldn't be
fair to the victims," he said. The public defender's office looked long
and hard before finding two lawyers, Junji Suzuki and Keiji Iwakura, who
were willing to take the case. Suzuki agreed because of his vehement
opposition to the death penalty.
defense team's case revolves around the claim that Miyazaki has only
limited sense of responsibility for his crimes, that he is unable to
choose between right and wrong. "We want to build enough of a case for
the judge to sentence Miyazaki to life in prison," said Suzuki. The
court's first action was to assign a team of six psychology professors
from Keio University to examine Miyazaki. Last year, they filed their
report: Miyazaki was fully capable of taking responsibility for his
actions. Attorney Suzuki disagrees.
we see of him, the more we think he lives in a different world," said
Suzuki. "We felt the report did not establish Miyazaki's mental
capabilities beyond reasonable doubt, so we asked for a second
evaluation. Fortunately, the judge agreed." Late last year, a team of
three Tokyo University professors began the evaluation of Miyazaki that
is due this autumn. "It is very unusual for a team to evaluate a
defendant," Suzuki added. "Usually, a single psychologist is used." This
will be the defense team's last appeal. The prosecution can appeal for
another evaluation if it disagrees with the upcoming report: the defense
three possible outcomes to the psychological evaluation. If the second
report agrees that Miyazaki is mentally incompetent, he will be sent to
a mental institution where, if precedent is followed, he'll be released
in 12 or 13 years. However, public prosecutors, who have over 750 items
of physical evidence, have no intention of letting Miyazaki loose. They
will surely petition the court for a third testing, and a fourth,
until--in theory--Miyazaki is as dead as his victims.
second possibility--the result Suzuki seeks--is that Miyazaki will be
judged to have a limited sense of responsibility for his crimes. "He may
not have an incapacitating personality disorder such as paranoia or
schizophrenia, but I think he may be borderline," said Suzuki. "We hope
the psychological team agrees." This result, thinks this result will
earn Miyazaki a life sentence without parole. Prof. Ishii expects the
same psychological outcome, but believes Miyazaki's life sentence will,
in effect, last about 12 to 15 years. "It is impossible to say whether
he will still be dangerous by then," said Ishii. "However, keeping him
in prison for the rest of his life raises other questions of human
possible outcome is that Miyazaki is deemed mentally competent enough to
take full responsibility for his crimes. In this case, the judge would
have no choice but to condemn him to death. Although Suzuki cannot
appeal the psychological evaluation, he can--and would--appeal a death
involved in the case doubts that Tsutomu Miyazaki is a very, very
disturbed young man. Dr. Oda lists a grab bag of obsessions: pedophilia,
necrophilia, sadism, fetishism, and cannibalism. Prof. Ishii believes
Miyazaki was a pedophile first, a murderer second. "Killing was an
extension of his interest in little girls, a way of possessing them," he
Miyazaki insane? "I don't see how Miyazaki could be judged responsible
for his actions," said Shunsuke Serizawa. "He shows no signs of being
aware of being aware of the gravity of his crimes. He has no sense of
guilt. Even the judge seems to agree that his first psychological
testing was very inadequate, which is why a second testing was ordered."
But, although he strongly believes that Miyazaki should not be held
criminally responsible for his deeds, Serizawa stresses that "it still
would not do to let him loose in society." Miyazaki's lawyer echoes this
sentiment. "The defense team will do its best to see that he gets life,"
month Tsutomu Miyazaki will celebrate his 31st birthday in prison. "He's
perfectly happy," said Suzuki. "He is allowed to read comic books all
day." As they near a decision, the Tokyo University psychologists
observe their subject every day. Yet, Suzuki claimed, Miyazaki barely
registers the fact that people are staring at him. "He hates that," said
Suzuki. "He's very self-conscious."
remains of the Itsukaichi house and printing plant complex is an open
lot and the small two-room annex where Miyazaki slept among his
teetering stacks of gruesome video tapes. Miyazaki's parents, who visit
once a week to replenish his supply of comics, shut down the _Akikawa
Shimbun_, and went into hiding soon after their son's confessions were
made public. In a 1989 interview with the _Tokyo Shimbun_, Katsumi
Miyazaki regretted that "I didn't pay more attention to the feelings of
my son." After his arrest, Miyazaki had written a furious letter to his
father, blaming him for everything.
mother, however, Miyazaki was more conciliatory. "Mother, I've caused
you much heartache," he wrote once. Then he added, "Don't forget to
change the oil in my car, or it will get so you can't drive it.
Miyazaki was judged to have multiple personalities at the
least and schizophrenia at the worst by the Tokyo University
psychologists. He is still in prison. His father committed suicide.
"I felt all alone... whenever I
saw a little girl playing on her own, it was almost like seeing myself."
- Tsutomu Miyazaki
"Her hands and feet didn't seem to
be with the remains. When she gets to heaven, she won't be able to walk
or eat. Please return the rest of her remains." - Shigeo Konno, at the
funeral of his daughter, Mari.
On August 22, 1988, Mari Konno
left her house in Saitama prefecture, Japan. The four-year-old was
walking to a friend's house to play.
She left around three o'clock in
the afternoon. As she made her way across her apartment complex, she was
approached by a man. "Would you like to go somewhere where it's cool?"
He asked her. She agreed, and taking his hand, climbed into his car.
At 6:23 in the afternoon, Shigeo
Konno, distraught, called the police to report his daughter missing.
Parents in Mari Konno's village
quickly learned of her disappearance. Police drove around the streets,
admonishing parents over their loudspeakers to keep their children in
sight at all times. 50,000 posters with Mari's image were hung inn train
stations and bus stops across Japan; the police canvassed the area
surrounding Mari's house, questioning the Konno's neighbors. Two boys
and a housewife reported seeing Mari with a stranger; they described a
pudgy man in his late thirties with curly hair.
The Konno's began to receive
strange telephone calls that would ring, unanswered, for up to 20
minute. When they answered, the person on the other end would hang up.
Days after Mari was abducted, they received a note reading "There are
devils about." The police dismissed it as a cruel joke.
After four weeks, the case went
decidedly cold. They hadn't found a body and there was no communication
from the kidnapper. In September, the Kindergarten that Mari Konno would
have attended began without her.
On October 3, 1988, in Hanno,
Saitama prefecture seven year old Masami Yoshizawa was walking along the
road. She climbed into a stranger's car, and was never seen again.
Masami's disappearance led the
police to paper the area with posters, and organize extensive search
parties. The police suspected a connection between this case and the
case that had take place six weeks prior. But without any leads, it was
filed under missing persons.
On December 12, 1988, two men came
upon a sedan stuck in a gutter on the side of the road, its hazard
lights flashing. The driver was nowhere in evidence.
A few minute later, a man emerged
from the surrounding woods, carrying a sheet. He opened the truck to put
the sheet away, and explained he had gotten himself stuck turning a
corner. They lifted him out of the rut, and he sped away, without
That night four year old Erika
Namba was reported missing. The police set up a task force to solve the
three missing persons cases. It was now official: someone was abducting
little girls in Saitama Prefecture.
A few days later a worker at the
Naguri Youth Nature House found some of Erika's clothes in the nearby
woods. The police focused their efforts of that area; they soon found
Erika Namba's corpse, her hands a feet tied with nylon rope.
Like the Konnos, the Nambas were
bothered by strange phone calls. A few days after Erika's death,
Shin'ichi Namba received a letter. This was a photocopied sheet of words
taken from magazines and enlarged to hide their origin. It read: "Erika.
Cold. Cough. Throat. Rest. Death."
Mari Konno's Remains
On February 6, 1989, Shigeo Konno
found a box on his doorstep and called the police. Inside the box were
ashes, bits of bone, photos of a child's clothing and ten tiny teeth. A
letter inside read: "Mari. Bones. Cremated. Investigate. Prove."
When Dr. Kazuo Suzuki of Tokyo
Dental University first reported that the teeth were not Mari's, a
letter was sent to the Konno's and Asahi Shimbun, an Osaka newspaper. It
contained a photograph of Mari and a confession.
"I put the cardboard box with
Mari's remains in it in front of her home. "I did everything. From the
start of the Mari incident to the finish. I saw the police press
conference where they said the remains were not Mari's. On camera, her
mother said the report gave her new hope that Mari might still be alive.
I knew then that I had to write this confession so Mari's mother would
not continue to hope in vain. I say again: the remains are Mari's." -
The pseudonym Yuko Imada is a pun
on the Japanese for "Now I'll Tell". The box and the confession told
more than they were supposed to: The camera used to take the photograph
was a Mamiya 6x7; the type often used by printing shops. The box was the
double walled, corrugated sort used to ship cameras. The killer might be
working in a printing shop.
After the Konnos returned from
their daughter's funeral, they received another letter. While the first
had purported to be an act of kindness, this was nothing but macabre
"Before I knew it, the child's
corpse had gone rigid. I wanted to cross her hands over her breast but
they wouldn't budge. . . . Pretty soon, the body gets red spots all over
it . . . . Big red spots. Like the Hinomaru flag. Or like you'd covered
her whole body with red hanko seals. . . . After a while, the body is
covered with stretch marks. It was so rigid before, but now it feels
like its full of water. And it smells. How it smells. Like nothing
you've ever smelled in this whole wide world." - Yoku Imada
On June 6, 1989 five-year-old
Ayako Nomoto climbed into the car of a stranger, who told her he wanted
to take photos of her. A week later, a torso was found in Hanno's
Miyazawa-ko Cemetery. The blood type and chest size matched Ayako's; the
stomach contents matched Ayako's last meal.
By this time, the newspapers had
dubbed Yoku Imada the "Little Girl Murderer". The witnesses in the Namba
case had incorrectly identified the make of the sedan; the police had
not found anything fruitful in their canvassing of print shops. The
killer was becoming increasingly more reckless and unstable; it could
only be a matter of time before he made his last mistake.
On July 23, 1989, in Hachioji, a
father struck a man who was taking pictures of his youngest daughter's
vagina. The stranger fled, only to return to the scene for his car and
be arrested. Tsutomu Miyazaki was a 26 year old print shop assistant who
spent most of his time in his room. A premature birth had left him with
hands that were fused to his wrists, and he used Manga and Anime to
escape from reality.
The police charged him with
"forcing a minor to commit indecent acts", but they were sure they had
found their serial killer. He eventually confessed to all four deaths;
police found Mari Konno's hands and feet stored in his house. He had
strangled each girl, taken pictures of Ayako Nomoto, and sexually abused
all of them postmortem. It was discovered that he had eaten portions of
his last two victims, and that he had a history of sexual transgressions
against his own family members.
Miyazaki's capture ignited a moral
panic in Japan over Otakus, a class of obsessive, technologically savvy
loners that spend most of their time practicing complicated hobbies and
shunning the rest of the world. In addition, Miyazaki's extensive
slasher film collection contained the Guinea Pig films, a series known
for its ultraviolent depiction of grisly deaths.
Tsutomu Miyazaki was found
mentally fit to stand trial, and was judged guilty of killing all four
girls. His father, who did not pay for his legal defense on the grounds
that it would be "unfair to the victims", committed suicide after the
verdict. Miyazaki lost his last death-penalty appeal in 2006; his
execution date is yet be set.
Japan serial killer death sentence upheld
Jun. 28, 2001
A court in Japan has ruled that a serial killer who
murdered four young girls and ate some of their remains must be executed.
Lawyers had argued on appeal that Tsutomu Miyazaki
should not be hanged because he was mentally ill and was not responsible
for his own actions.
But the High Court in Tokyo ruled that, though
suffering from a personality disorder, Miyazaki was able to distinguish
right from wrong at the time of the crimes.
The former printing worker killed the girls aged
between four and seven over a year-long period in the late 1980s.
His lawyers say they now plan to appeal to Japan's
retrial sought for serial child killer
November 24, 2005
During closing arguments Tuesday at the appellate
trial of Tsutomu Miyazaki, who was sentenced to death by district and
high courts for the murder of four girls in Tokyo and Saitama Prefecture
between 1988 and 1989, the defense counsel called for a retrial at a
high court and a reexamination of his mental competence at the time the
crimes were committed.
The prosecutors demanded the appeal be rejected.
The Supreme Court's No. 3 Petty Bench, chaired by Tokiyasu Fujita, will
hand down a ruling next year.
During closing remarks, the defense and prosecutors exchanged heated
words over the defendant's mental state.
Defense lawyer Maiko Tagusari gave a detailed briefing on the medication
Miyazaki, 43, received at the Tokyo Detention Center in Katsushika Ward.
She said that after an appeal was filed in 2001, inquiries she made to
the center showed that starting in 2002, the center increased the
quantity of a psychotropic agent administered to Miyazaki to control
During an examination in 2002, Miyazaki told a doctor at the center he
could hear a voice saying someone would tear his nails out, she said.
According to Tagusari, Miyazaki said the voice was spoken by someone
with a mysterious strength who was trying to attack him.
"What he hears has changed from single words to sentences. His condition
has not improved with more medication. It's clear he has gradually
become psychopathic since the time he committed the crimes," he said.
Kensaku Iuchi of the Supreme Public Prosecutors Office said Miyazaki had
committed four crimes without leaving direct evidence.
"There was no evidence that he was mentally ill when he killed the girls,"
With the Tokyo District Court basically accepting the charges against
Miyazaki, after the first trial, the rest of the 15 years of legal
battles have focused on his competence.
Results of psychological tests conducted during the first trial were
divided: an extremely distorted personality, mental illness centering on
multiple personality disorder or potential integration disorder syndrome.
The results showed Miyazaki had a complicated mental state, but the
district court accepted the first result, determining Miyazaki was
The Tokyo High Court also upheld the district court's determination.
The Supreme Court, where hearings are held only for arguments on
constitutional and other major matters, did not change the two lower
At a press conference after closing arguments, Tagusari said the
situation was not favorable for Miyazaki.
"If the death sentence is upheld, an appeal is necessary," Tagusari said.
In August 1988, Miyazaki strangled a 4-year-old kindergartner in a
forest in Iruma, Saitama Prefecture, after taking her to the forest by
Between October 1988 and June 1989, he killed three girls aged 4 to 7 in
Hanno and Kawagoe, Saitama Prefecture, and Koto Ward, Tokyo.
The murders shocked society as he sent parts of their remains and
letters to the victims' families.
According to a source, as of August 2004 Miyazaki had lost 10 kilograms
over two years, and weighed 58 kilograms.
Last month, in a letter to Hiroyuki Shinoda, editor in chief of Tsukuru
monthly magazine, with whom Miyazaki has corresponded for 10 years,
Miyazaki said: "I think I will be acquitted. I don't intend to apologize
[to the bereaved families]."
The books Miyazaki requests are out-of-print comic books and articles
about him, the source said. He sometimes asks people who write to him
for copies of stories he likes so that he can keep them, the source said.