Photo/IllutrationNine people were killed in a unit of this apartment building in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, from August to October 2017. (Nobuyuki Takiguchi)

  • Photo/Illustraion

Tokyo prosecutors indicted a suspected serial killer on multiple charges of murder, forcible sexual intercourse and robbery in an apparent attempt to seek maximum punishment over the nine dismembered bodies found in his apartment.

Takahiro Shiraishi, 27, had been sent to the Tachikawa branch of the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office mainly on suspicion of murder.

But prosecutors at the branch on Sept. 10 indicted the unemployed suspect on nine charges of murder, eight charges of forcible sexual intercourse, and robbery.

In doing so, the prosecutors changed the name of the crime from “murder” to “robbery, forcible sexual intercourse and murder,” whose statutory penalties are only the death sentence or life imprisonment.

“(Shiraishi’s case) is a serious incident. We judged that we need to make the entire picture of the incident clear to the people,” a high-ranking prosecutor said.

The trial for Shiraishi will be held under the lay judge system.

According to the indictment, Shiraishi lured the nine people to his apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, from Aug. 23 to Oct. 23 in 2017 and strangled them with rope.

He became acquainted with them mainly through posts on Twitter about suicide.

The nine, whose ages ranged from 15 to 26, were residents of Tokyo and four prefectures.

After killing them, he stole their money, ranging from several hundred yen (several dollars) to several tens of thousands of yen, the indictment said.

In addition, he is accused of committing forcible sexual intercourse with the eight female victims.

The lone male victim was searching for his missing girlfriend, who had been killed by Shiraishi, and was himself lured to the apartment, according to the investigation.

Since October, when the dismembered bodies were found mainly in containers, the Metropolitan Police Department has arrested Shiraishi a total of 10 times on suspicion of murder and other crimes.

From the beginning of the interrogations, he admitted to the murders, telling police that he wanted money to lead an easy life. He also cited sexual purposes.

Prosecutors in April requested a psychiatric examination of Shiraishi to determine his mental state when the crimes were committed. At that time, prosecutors had already decided to indict him under the crime name of robbery, forcible sexual intercourse and murder if he was deemed fit to bear criminal responsibility for his actions, according to sources.

Although physical evidence may be limited in proving motive in the case, prosecutors are confident they will get a conviction.

“The evidence is not only his testimonies,” a senior prosecutor said. “But, basically, we will be able to prove the crimes with his confessions.”

Nobuo Komiya, a professor of criminology at Rissho University, suggested prosecutors could face a tougher time at trial.

“In the cases of serial killings, the killers tend to conceal their real motives due to guilty feelings,” Komiya said. “It is difficult to uncover (Shiraishi’s) motives only from his testimonies. The motives will become a focus of his trial.”