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A Japanese serial murderer dubbed the “Twitter killer” has been sentenced to death after killing nine victims and keeping their dismembered remains in his apartment.
Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, confessed in court to murdering eight women and one man in the summer of 2017. Direct messaging young women who expressed suicidal thoughts on their Twitter accounts, Shiraishi convinced them to come to his apartment about 90 minutes outside of central Tokyo, according to Singapore newspaper The Straits Times.
There, he dosed the women with sleeping pills and tranquilizers before raping and strangling them to death. He then dismembered their bodies, throwing out their flesh and organs but keeping their heads and bones in boxes inside his apartment, according to the paper.
At trial, Shiraishi’s lawyers pushed for a reduced charge of homicide with consent, arguing that his suicidal victims had all consented to their deaths in messages with him, The Japan Times reports.
But Shiraishi himself contradicted these claims, saying in court, “I killed [the women] for financial reasons and to satisfy my sexual desires. There was no consent,” The Straits Times reports.
The string of slaughters began in August 2017, when Shiraishi met with a 21-year-old woman whom he convinced to wire him the equivalent of $4,500. Shiraishi used this money to rent an apartment – and later confessed to murdering the woman there, reports NHK, a Japanese public news network.
Over the next two months, Shiraishi went on to kill another seven women, aged between 15 and 26. All of them expressed suicidal thoughts online, though Shiraishi used different strategies to lure them to his home – sometimes posing as a suicide guide who could help them die, while other times entering into suicide pacts where he promised to kill himself alongside them, The Straits Times reports.
He messaged the women on Twitter under an account name that roughly translates to “Hangman,” according to The Japan Times.
Shiraishi expressed mixed feelings about his crimes in court.
“I am sorry for having killed some of the victims, with whom I spent a lot of time, and would like to apologize to these families,” he said, according to The Straits Times. “But for the others, I don’t really feel a deep sense of regret. In any case, I am sorry only because I failed when I got caught. If I wasn’t caught, I wouldn’t be regretting anything.”
Police ultimately tracked down Shiraishi after the brother of his eighth victim hacked into his sister’s Twitter account and discovered her message history, according to the paper. Neighbors told investigators they’d noticed a foul smell coming from Shiraishi's apartment, and inside, police discovered boxes loaded with stripped bones.
While his lawyers argued for a reduced sentence, Shiraishi clashed with them in court, contradicting their statements and refusing to respond to their questions, Japanese newspaper The Asahi Shimbun reports. He told the court that the claims against him were “correct,” according to The Japan Times.
Shiraishi remained expressionless while the presiding judge read his 80-minute ruling on Tuesday, sentencing the confessed serial killer to death.
“All the murders were well-planned and the modus operandi makes it one of the most malicious murders ever in the history of crime,” Judge Naokuni Yano said, according to The Straits Times.
Criminals on Japan’s death row are hanged to death, according to the BBC. They are not told when they will be killed until the morning of their execution.
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