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The unprecedented murder of an entire suburban family has continued to baffle police in Japan, more than two decades after the killing. The still-unidentified killer — dubbed The Faceless Man — is now the subject of a USG Audio podcast titled “Faceless.”
The podcast explores the disturbing, and puzzling, 2000 murders of the Miyazawa family in the Tokyo neighborhood of Setagaya. On the morning of New Year's eve, the bodies of Mikio Miyazawa, 44, and his 41-year-old wife Yasuko, along with their children Niina, 8, and Rei, 6, were discovered by Yasuko's mother. Rei had been strangled while the rest of the family was stabbed to death, Japan Today reported in 2015.
One of the first shocking elements of the case is the fact that it happened in Japan, a country with one of the lowest murder rates in the world, according to a study by the United Nations.
Furthermore, the killer left numerous pieces of evidence at the scene, including his DNA and the murder weapon.
The killing is often referred to as a “Goldilocks” murder because, not only did the murderer neglect to flee from the scene after the killings, he made himself at home. He may have even spent the night, the podcast details. He defecated in the bathroom, browsed the internet on the family computer, ate their ice cream and drank their iced tea. He also created a folder on the family’s computer before getting into clothing owned by one of the victims. And after changing, he left the clothes he had worn during the crimes in the home.
He has still, to this day, never been identified.
“It’s like a nightmare version of ‘Goldilocks,’” crime author Nicolás Obregón, host of the podcast, states in the series, referring to the 19th-century story "Goldilocks," in which a girl breaks into a group of bears' home, eats their food and sleeps in their beds.
In 2019, retired police chief Takeshi Tsuchida, who played a key role in the case, noted that he was still haunted by the mystery of it all.
"It's been 19 years and despite so many clues left behind, the fingerprints and the DNA of the criminal, why can't we find him?" he pondered.
As the podcast notes, there are so many theories. Was the killer an angry teen or skater, who was upset the family always complained about the noise from the nearby skate park? Was he a Korean hitman? Was he a burglar? Even the motive has yet to be defined.
To this day, the case remains one of the largest mysteries in Japanese history. More than 246,044 investigators have been involved and over 12,545 pieces of evidence has been collected. Still, law enforcement remains baffled, according to Japanese outlet The Mainichi.
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