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Teruhiko MATSUE





Classification: Murderer?
Characteristics: Rape
Number of victims: 3 ?
Date of murders: 1987 - 1989
Date of arrest: June 11, 2002
Date of birth: 1963
Victims profile: Sumiko Fujise, 48 (restaurant employee) / Kiyomi Nakashima, 50 (housewife) / Tatsuyo Yoshino, 37 (seamstress)
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Saga Prefecture, Japan
Status: Found not guilty in 2002, because the evidence submitted by prosecutors was "not sufficient enough to judge that the defendant was the true culprit beyond reasonable doubt"

Burglar faces murder charge

Inmate arrested over '89 slaying, suspected in two others

The Japan Times

June 12, 2002

SAGA (Kyodo) A 39-year-old Saga Prefecture man serving time for burglary has been served an arrest warrant in his prison cell for a slaying 13 years ago and faces questioning on two others.

Teruhiko Matsue, of Kitagata, is serving a two-year prison term. The arrest warrant is in connection with the January 1989 slaying of Tatsuyo Yoshino, 37, a local seamstress whose corpse was found along with the other two dead women at the base of a cliff in the mountains around Kitagata.

Matsue allegedly strangled Yoshino, with whom he was acquainted, on the night of Jan. 25, 1989, after he had telephoned her and invited her out. He then allegedly took her body in his car to the mountains.

The body of Sumiko Fujise, 48, a restaurant employee from the city of Takeo who disappeared in July 1987, was also found at the base of the cliff. If she had been slain right after her disappearance, as police suspect, the 15-year statute of limitations for her murder would expire next month.

The third body was identified as that of Kiyomi Nakajima, 50, also from Kitagata. She disappeared in December 1988.

Immediately after the victims' bodies were found 13 years ago, police briefly interrogated Matsue, who surfaced as a suspect because of his links to Yoshino.

Although Matsue submitted a deposition indicating he may have had something to do with the deaths, police lacked material evidence or testimony to clearly link him to the murders. Matsue later reversed his position and denied involvement in the slayings, according to police.

In an interview with Kyodo News in 1989, Matsue said he was with friends on the night when Yoshino was believed to have been killed. He said he knew her but denied that they were intimate, and added that he did not know the other two women.

Matsue was arrested in November in Ebino, Miyazaki Prefecture, after being put on a wanted list for allegedly breaking into houses in neighboring Kagoshima Prefecture.

He was sentenced to two years in prison in March, at which time he was again questioned about the murder case, police said, adding that he remained almost silent during questioning.

Police did not elaborate on why they served Matsue with a warrant in connection with the 1989 slaying this time around.

Because all three victims were found in the same location, police theorized that the same perpetrator was involved.


Alleged triple-strangler tells court he is innocent

The Japan Times

Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2002

SAGA (Kyodo) A 39-year-old man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to strangling three women in the town of Kitagata, Saga Prefecture, between 1987 and 1989 and burying their bodies in nearby woods.

"I am innocent of the three murders," Teruhiko Matsue told the Saga District Court. Matsue is accused of killing the women, whose bodies were found together in a forest in the town in January 1989.

The trial is expected to be drawn out as Matsue has refused to confess to the charges against him, sources said.

Matsue's arrest this summer came as the statute of limitations on the earliest case was about to expire.

According to the indictment, Matsue strangled Sumiko Fujise, a 48-year-old restaurant employee, in July 1987; Kiyomi Nakashima, a 50-year-old housewife, in December 1988; and Tatsuyo Yoshino, a 37-year-old seamstress, in January 1989.

Public prosecutors told the court Tuesday that Matsue raped Fujise in his car then killed her when she threatened to go to the police. The woman was an acquaintance of his, they added.

The prosecutors said Matsue killed Nakashima because he believed she had wrongly blamed him for bumping her with his car. Matsue, who was drunk at the time, was worried that she would go to police, they said.

They further alleged that he killed Yoshino, whom he was dating, because he believed she was seeing another man.

Matsue admitted murdering the three women in October 1989, when he was arrested on a drug-related charge. He immediately retracted his confession, however, saying police had forced him to make it.

With no material evidence to link Matsue to the murders, investigators abandoned their case against him.

But 15 years later, they resurrected the case, conducting another round of investigations and saying Matsue's DNA matches saliva found on one of the victims' bodies. A new test using more sophisticated methods linked Matsue to the corpse.

On June 11, police arrested Matsue and charged him with the murder of Yoshino. Matsue was in prison at the time, having been sentenced to a two-year prison term in March for breaking into houses.

On July 2, the police served Matsue with a fresh warrant, charging him with the murder of Fujise. The indictment on the Fujise case came only six hours before the 15-year statute of limitations on the crime was set to expire.

On July 9, the police served Matsue with an arrest warrant for the murder of Nakashima.


Accused triple-killer's acquittal is upheld

Saga man's confession deemed forced

The Japan Times

March 20, 2007

The Fukuoka High Court on Monday upheld the acquittal of a 44-year-old Fukuoka man who was charged with murdering 3 women in Saga Prefecture between 1987 and 1989.

The victims, including one that the defendant, Teruhiko Matsue, had been dating, were found near each other in a mountainous part of the town of Kitagata in January 1989.

"There were no errors or misidentification of facts in the trial of first instance, where his confession was not adopted as evidence because it was illegally obtained," presiding Judge Katsuhiko Masaki said in upholding the acquittal of Matsue, who wasn't arrested for the slayings until 2002 because Saga police, after he retracted his 1989 confession, decided they couldn't make a case.

The Saga District Court acquitted Matsue in May 2005, rejecting as evidence his written confession submitted earlier, on grounds that he had been subject to "illegally long hours of questioning that went beyond a voluntary nature" and "there is a possibility that investigators had forced and led him to confess."

When he wrote the confession, Matsue was being held for an unrelated case.

The district court found Matsue not guilty in the murders of Sumiko Fujise, 48, Kiyomi Nakashima, 50, and Tatsuyo Yoshino, 37, because the evidence submitted by prosecutors was "not sufficient enough to judge that the defendant was the true culprit beyond reasonable doubt." The prosecutors had demanded the death penalty.

At the Fukuoka High Court, prosecutors again demanded that Matsue's confession be adopted as evidence, arguing that he is presumed to have killed the three, whose bodies were found in nearly the same spot, given his relationship with Yoshino, whom he was dating, and the detection of his bodily fluid on her body.

They also characterized as "new evidence" the discovery of mitochondrial DNA in a substance found on a picture that was in his car, claiming it matched the DNA of one of the victims, without specifying.

The defense counsel discounted the discovery, saying that mitochondrial DNA is not sufficient for identification and contended that the prosecutors had concealed forensic evidence indicating someone else may have perpetrated the slayings, including the discovery of urine residue on a seat in Matsue's car that did not match the urine of any of the victims. They did not elaborate.

The bodies of the three women, who had disappeared between 1987 and 1989, were found in January 1989 in a mountainous part of Kitagata.

In November that year, Matsue, who had been arrested and was in custody on a drug charge, submitted a written confession during questioning by Saga Prefectural Police.

He later retracted it, leading police at that time to give up on their efforts to establish a case against him as a murder suspect, due to insufficient evidence.

Matsue was arrested in June 2002 in connection with one of the murders, just before the statute of limitations on the slayings was to expire later in the year. He was charged with murder the following month. He maintained his innocence from the time of his arrest to the end of his trial.


From left, Tatsuyo Yoshino, Kiyomi Nakajima and Fumiko Fujise.


Teruhiko Matsue (left) is taken into the Takeo Police Station after being arrested on suspicion of committing murder 13 years ago.



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