A Japanese man who made headlines for the murder of nine people and the storage of their body parts in his apartment pleaded guilty to his crimes this week.
Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, has been dubbed the “Twitter Killer” for using the platform to lure victims into his home in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture between August and October 2017.
On Wednesday, Shiraishi told the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Court that the allegations against him were “correct,” according to Kyodo News.
However, defense lawyers argued that he killed his victims upon their request, expressing suicidal thoughts in their Twitter conversations.
Shiraishi’s actions came to light in October 2017 after a man reported that his younger sister went missing. After logging into her Twitter account, he discovered that she had been in touch with Shiraishi.
A tweet posted on the woman’s account in September 2017 stated that she was looking for someone to join her in killing herself. She noted that she was “scared of dying alone.”
Defense lawyers seek to get Shiraishi’s murder charges reduced to homicide with consent. If convicted of murder, he will face the death penalty by hanging; homicide with consent carries a lower sentence of six months to seven years.
However, Shiraishi claims that he did not want to help his victims die. In an interview with the Asahi Shimbun, he explained that his real motives were to steal his victims’ money and satisfy his sexual desires — and that he will not apologize for them.
Shiraishi’s victims include eight women and one man, aged 15 to 26. After killing them, he took their money from as little as several hundred yen (several dollars) to several tens of thousands of yen.
He is also charged with raping his eight female victims. The sole male victim, 20, was looking for one of the female victims, 21, when Shiraishi decided to kill him “to bury the evidence.”
Shiraishi said that he killed the 21-year-old woman — his first victim — because he did not want to pay back the money he owed her. He added that he lured three other women to his home but did not kill them after realizing that he could depend on them financially.
Police found dismembered body parts stored in ice chests and toolboxes at the time of Shiraishi’s arrest. These include heads, limbs and some 240 pieces of bone.
Shiraishi killed all his victims by strangulation, which is what he faces if proven guilty.
“I read books that describe scenes of executions, so I don’t want something that gives me physical pain,” the 29-year-old told the Asahi Shimbun. “I don’t want to fight in the court, but I don’t want to face death penalty, either. I have mixed feelings.”
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