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A.K.A.: "The Otaku Murderer"
Classification: Serial killer
Characteristics: Cannibalism - Necrophile - Mutilation
Number of victims: 4
Date of murders: 1988 - 1989
Date of arrest: July 23, 1989
Date of birth: August 21, 1962
Victims profile: Mari Konno, 4 / Masami Yoshizawa, 7 / Erika Namba, 4 / Ayako Nomoto, 5
Method of murder: Strangulation
Location: Tokyo/Saitama, Japan
Status: Sentenced to death on April 14, 1997. Executed by hanging on June 17, 2008

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Another murderer seemingly influenced by Japanese pornography and anime was Tsutomu Miyazaki, a.k.a., "the Little Girl Murderer." As a boy, Miyazaki was physically challenged and he thus developed into a loner who thrived on fantasy and comic books.

Highly sexed, he moved on to child pornography and reportedly collected thousands of videos, as well as Japanese anime, or live action films based on cartoons. Apparently, he was influenced by horror films, especially the series of "Guinea Pig" films, and there is speculation that the second one in that series became a model for one of his murders.

Miyazaki grabbed his first victim, four-year-old Mari Konno, on August 22, 1988, taking her into a park, photographing her, and strangling her. He then undressed her and left her nude body behind while he took her clothing with him which he also photographed. The 26-year-old man got away with it so he plotted another kidnapping and by October, he was at it again.

Driving around, he spotted Masami Yoshizawa, 7, walking by herself. It was easy to persuade the child to get into his car, and he returned to a spot close to his first murder in fact, where that child's undiscovered bones still lay. This time, after strangling his victim, Miyazaki had sexual contact, and he once again walked away with her clothing.

On December 12, Miyazaki murdered another four-year-old girl, Erika Namba. Again, he talked her into getting in his car. He photographed her before killing and dumping her, and was very nearly caught, but managed to get away. He kept a low profile for the next few months before taking his last victim.

In the meantime, Erika's corpse was found and witnesses described the car they had seen in the area. The police also learned that each of the families of the three girls had received strange phone calls: always, the caller remained silent. They also received gruesome postcards with letters cut from magazines to form words like "cold" and "death." Mari's parents also found a box left on their doorstep that contained such items as photographs of their missing daughter's clothing, teeth, and charred bone fragments. Following this was a confession that Mari had been murdered.

The police learned that the camera used for the photos was a tool common to printers, and indeed, Miyazaki worked in that trade. Investigators were getting closer, but did not identify him not before he'd struck again.

On June 6, he grabbed Ayako Nomoto, 5, from a park after he'd taken photographs of her. This body he took home to videotape. Clearly, he was feeling bolder. Then he dismembered the corpse, consumed some flesh, and dumped the remains in a cemetery. While the corpse was found and quickly identified, Miyazaki remained free. That is, until he made a mistake.

In July 1989, he approached two sisters and lured one away. The other ran home to get help. Their father stopped Miyazaki in the act of photographing the child's genitals and the police arrived as he ran to his car. Now caught, he offered a grim confession of killing the four children. A team of psychologist examined him, and found him responsible for his actions, although other examiners disagreed.

In the end, Miyazaki was found to have multiple personality disorder and schizophrenia, but was nevertheless sane, and he was given a death sentence. That sentence was upheld early in 2006, and he was executed June 17, 2008.

By Katherine Ramsland -


Tsutomu Miyazaki (宮崎勤, Miyazaki Tsutomu, born August 21, 1962), also known as The Otaku Murderer, The Little Girl Murderer, and Dracula, is a Japanese serial killer.


His premature birth left him with deformed hands, which were permanently gnarled and fused directly to the wrists, necessitating him to move his entire forearm in order to rotate the hand. Due to his deformity, he was ostracized in elementary school, and consequently kept to himself and began to read manga almost obsessively.

Although he was originally a star student, his grades in high school dropped dramatically. Instead of studying English and becoming a teacher as he originally intended, he attended a local junior college, studying to become a photo-technician.

Life as a serial killer

Between 1988 and 1989, Miyazaki mutilated and killed four girls, ages four to seven; he then sexually molested their corpses and ate portions of his third and fourth victims. The crimes which, prior to Miyazaki's apprehension and trial were classified "The Little Girl Murders" shocked Saitama Prefecture, which had a long-standing record of low occurrences of crimes against children.

During the day, Miyazaki was a mild-mannered, quiet, obedient employee. He selected children to kill randomly. He terrorized the families of his victims, sending them letters recalling in graphic, yet mechanical, detail what he had done to their children. To the family of victim Erika Namba, Miyazaki sent a morbid postcard assembled using words cut out of magazines, spelling out: "Erika. Cold. Cough. Throat. Rest. Death."

He allowed the corpse of his first victim, Mari Konno, to decompose in the hills near his home, then chopped off the hands and feet, which he kept in his closet, and which were recovered upon his arrest. He charred the remaining bones in his furnace, ground them into powder, and sent them to her family in a box, along with several of her teeth, photos of her clothes, and a postcard reading: "Mari. Cremated. Bones. Investigate. Prove."


In 1989, Miyazaki, while attempting to insert a zoom-lens into the vagina of a grade school-aged girl in a park near her home, was attacked by the girl's father. Miyazaki fled on foot, but returned to the park to retrieve his car, whereupon he was promptly arrested. A police search of his two-room bungalow turned up a collection of 5763 videotapes, some containing pornographic anime and slasher films, in his apartment. Interspersed among the content were video footage and pictures of his victims. Contrary to many media reports, most of the tapes contained regular anime programs, such as Dokaben. The centerpieces of his collection were the first five Guinea Pig films; he apparently used the second film in the series as a template for one of his killings. Miyazaki's crimes fueled a moral panic against otaku and anime in Japan; Miyazaki, who retained a perpetually calm and collected demeanor during his trial, appeared indifferent to his capture. In 1989, he was convicted of what became known as "The Otaku Murders."

Following his son's conviction, Miyazaki's father, who had refused to pay for his legal defense, committed suicide.

Incarceration and trial

Throughout the 1990s, Miyazaki remained incarcerated while Saitama Prefecture put him through a battery of psychiatric evaluations, ending with the 1997 conclusion by a team of psychiatrists from Tokyo University that Miyazaki, though suffering from multiple personality disorder and extreme schizophrenia, was still aware of the gravity and consequences of his crimes, and was therefore accountable for them.

Shortly thereafter, Miyazaki was sentenced to death by hanging.

He has remained on death row for many years, appealing to have his sentence reduced to life imprisonment. He has also voiced fear of being hanged, the standard execution method in Japan, requesting instead American-style lethal injection. His life is essentially the same as when he committed his murders, spending his days reading manga and comic books and watching anime on a small television in his cell.

On January 17, 2006, the Supreme Court of Justice upheld the original death sentence. The date of his execution has not been decided yet.

In an interesting cultural shift from the time the murders were originally committed, the news reports of the court decisions upholding Miyazaki's sentence refer to him only as a child murderer, omitting all references to his hobbies. This can be seen as reflecting the changing attitudes in Japan towards otaku in general.



  1. Mari Konno - (今野真理 Kon'no Mari) - Four years old
  2. Masami Yoshizawa (吉沢正美 Yoshizawa Masami) - Seven years old
  3. Erika Namba (難波絵梨香 Nanba Erika) - Four years old
  4. Ayako Nomoto (野本綾子 Nomoto Ayako) - Five years old



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 to death.

As Mari 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.

While 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.

The man 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.

Mari was 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.

While 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.

So ended 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 Murders."

When the 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 case."

The text 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.

By the 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 comic books.

Tsutomu 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.

Miyazaki 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.

The 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 boy.

Miyazaki 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 organs.

"As a 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.

How then 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."

The 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," Serizawa said.

His 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.

"I felt all alone," Miyazaki explained later. "And whenever I saw a little girl playing on her own, it was almost like seeing myself."

The first 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.

Two boys 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.

The 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.

Six weeks 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.

When the 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.

After she 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.

Killing 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.

Miyazaki 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 life."

Erika 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.

A car 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.

This 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 lived.

Police 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.

The two 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.

Seen in 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.

Police 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.

And, less 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."

The hunt 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."

Miyazaki 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.

The 10 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.

Miyazaki, 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."

"I put 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."

The 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.

The 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.

The 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."

The nightmare wasn't over.

The 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."

In spite 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."

By the 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.

On June 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.

Miyazaki 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.

This 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.

Two days 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.

Realizing 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.

Five days 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.

In the end, Miyazaki's gruesome career was cut short by a citizen, despite the massive police forces pitted against him.

On 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."

The 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.

Seventeen 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."

On 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.

Could the police have tracked down Miyazaki sooner?

Until 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.

What if the National Police Agency had got involved sooner?

Then, as 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.

The 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.

"The more 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 cannot.

There are 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.

The 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 rights."

The third 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 sentence.

Nobody 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 said.

But is 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," Suzuki said.

Next 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."

All that 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.

To his 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.


Tsutomu Miyazaki

"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.

Mari Konno

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.

Masami Yoshizawa

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.

Erika Namba

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 thanking them.

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." - Yuko Imada

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 cruelty:

"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

Ayako Nomoto

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.

Tsutomu Miyazaki

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

BBC News

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 Supreme Court.



Another 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 auditory hallucinations.

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," he said.

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 competent.

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 courts' conclusions.

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 car.

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.



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