JAPAN – Last month, Takahiro Shiraishi, Japan’s notorious ‘Twitter Killer’ was sentenced to death after he pled guilty to 9 murders that took place in October. He currently awaits execution by hanging in Tokyo.
At Shiraishi’s trial, his legal team explored ‘consent to kill’ arguments, as well as considerations that Shiraishi was mentally unstable.
Those familiar with Shiraishi in his youth characterize him as a quiet, inconspicuous child with an interest in baseball, and a good listener.
However, there were apparent warning signs. A former classmate of Shiraishi’s told the Fuji TV network that Shiraishi and his friends would choke each other for fun.
“He once passed out while playing the choking game,” the unidentified man told the network.
In June, a month after he was given a suspended prison sentence for his role as a scout in a prostitution ring, Shiraishi told his father he had no will to live.
Jobless and depressed, Shiraishi sat in his apartment in Zama, a city in the central Kanagawa Prefecture. He began stalking Twitter, the platform he previously used to lure victims into sex trafficking. This time, however, he preyed on people with suicidal thoughts – the same thoughts he was plagued with.
Shiraishi began asking his victims, who expressed a desire to commit suicide on Twitter, to come to his home and carry the act out there. He offered to either assist, or watch them kill themselves.
While the vulnerable victims, most of them women, were at his home, Shiraishi would give them alcohol, sleeping pills, and tranquilisers to “make them relax”, before attacking and sometimes sexually assaulting them.
On Halloween, 240 bones and nine human heads were found in Shiraishi’s apartment.
Police found nine dismembered bodies in the residence. In five storage boxes and three coolers, they found the victims heads, legs, and arms. Eight of his nine victims were women ranging in age from late teens to early twenties.
When investigators inquired about the killings, Shiraishi said: “It was difficult at first. It took me three days to get rid of the first body, but after that I could deal with them within one day,”
He claimed his motive to be sex. Shiraishi would choke his victims until they passed out before sexually assaulting them, slicing up their bodies, and hiding them in his room for later destruction. He used cat litter to mask the smell.
“I disposed of their flesh and internal organs like garbage, but kept their bones out of fear that I would be caught.” Shiraishi said.
His neighbors in the 12-story Apartment Complex never reported anything unusual, apart from a particularly “pungent” smell, and Shiraishi’s bathroom ventilation fan being left on at all times. He incautiously used the communal neighborhood dumpster to dispose of the human remains.
Ultimately, Shiraishi’s social media footprint was his downfall. The 29-year-old operated two accounts with a small following. Under his first account, he depicted himself as a victim seeking company. “I want to forget everything. I want to disappear.” he wrote.
His second account took on a much more predatory theme. Shiraishi adopted the persona of a skilled assisted-suicide expert, posting under the hashtag ‘#SuicideRecruitment’.
“I want to spread my knowledge in hanging,” he wrote. “I really want to become the source of strength for everyone who is in pain.”
A brother of his ninth and final victim hacked into her twitter account, investigated Shiraishi, and was offered assistance from a woman who had met him before. The woman lured Shiraishi out in public for police, who discreetly tailed him home on October 30th.
They followed him to his front door, relentlessly interrogating him about the whereabouts of his latest victim, a missing 23-year-old woman.
Shiraishi nonchalantly gestured to a cooler in his living room.
“In there.” he said.