Photo/IllutrationThe severed body parts of nine people were found in one of the apartments in this building in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture. (Kazuhiro Nagashima)

A 27-year-old man was arrested on Oct. 31 after police made the grisly discovery of severed body parts from nine people hidden inside his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture.

The Metropolitan Police Department in Tokyo arrested Takahiro Shiraishi on suspicion of abandoning the body of one of the deceased. His occupation is unknown.

“I severed the body in my apartment and put it in a cooler," he reportedly told police. "I did so to conceal evidence that I killed the person.”

Police are investigating to determine whether he killed the person and the other eight victims.

According to police, Shiraishi severed the body in his apartment between Aug. 22 and Oct. 30. Then, he put it in a cooler and covered it with what is believed to be cat litter.

Police found three coolers and five large storage boxes in his apartment. They checked the eight boxes and found a large number of body parts, including heads, legs and arms, in seven of the boxes.

Of the nine bodies, eight were apparently those of women. Shiraishi told police that he severed the bodies in a bathroom of his apartment.

Police started to investigate on Oct. 24 when another man reported to the Takao Police Station that his younger sister had gone missing. He told police that he had been unable to contact her since Oct. 21.

The 23-year-old woman, a resident of Hachioji, western Tokyo, had posted a message on Twitter saying, “I want to die, but doing so alone is terrible. I’m looking for someone to die with me.”

When police were trying to ascertain her whereabouts, they learned she was exchanging messages with Shiraishi in a website on suicides.

Police also found that security cameras installed at JR Hachioji Station and Odakyu Line’s Sobudaimae Station in Zama had captured her walking with a man who was apparently Shiraishi on Oct. 23.

Police quoted Shiraishi as saying, “(At that time) I met her for the first time. I killed her.”

Police believe that her body was among the nine found in Shiraishi’s apartment.

The two-story, 12-unit apartment building, located about 670 meters southwest of Sobudaimae Station, stands in a residential area along the railway line.

According to a man in his 40s, who lives in one of the units, Shiraishi moved into his apartment about two months ago. Since then, the man has noticed a stench emanating from the unit.

“It was an extremely pungent smell that I had never experienced,” the man said.

Killing incidents resulting from message exchanges in suicide websites have also occurred in succession in the past.

In one of the cases, the Osaka prefectural police arrested a man in August 2005 on suspicion of killing a 25-year-old woman by offering to kill her with “rentan” coal briquettes.

He had also killed a 14-year-old male junior high school student and a 21-year-old male university student through similar proposals.