The suspected killer of former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe grew up in a household where there was often nothing for him and his two siblings to eat because their widowed mother gave all her money to the Unification Church, according to the man’s uncle.

The relative, who is 77 years old, met with reporters July 15 to describe the desperate circumstances his nephew, Tetsuya Yamagami, faced for years.

Yamagami, 41, told investigators he held a grudge against the Unification Church, formally known as the Family Federation for World Peace and Unification, and shot Abe because he felt the veteran politician had some sort of tie to the organization.

Yamagami’s uncle also said that his nephew took out a life insurance policy on himself in his early 20s and attempted suicide in the hope his siblings would benefit from the insurance payout.

The uncle said that Yamagami’s mother was questioned by the Nara District Public Prosecutors Office on July 12 and 14. He added that she was in a state of utter exhaustion because of what happened.

The uncle also said that Yamagami’s father died in 1984 and the mother joined the Unification Church in 1991.

Using insurance money following her husband’s death, the mother “donated 20 million yen ($144,000) soon after joining the church and another 30 million yen shortly afterward, followed by another 10-million-yen donation,” the uncle said.

In 1998, the mother’s father, who was Yamagami’s grandfather, died. The mother quickly sold off land she inherited from her father and made another donation of about 40 million yen to the Unification Church. She informed Yamagami’s uncle about that donation.

The mother filed for personal bankruptcy in 2002, having donated a total of 100 million yen to the Unification Church. She even asked the uncle to make donations and pestered him by making persistent visits to his home. It got to the point that he had “chase her away by throwing tea at her.”

According to Unification Church officials, the mother is still a member. The church submitted a document to The Asahi Shimbun in which it explained that between 2005 and 2014 it returned about 50 million yen to the mother.

But the fact remains that the lives of the children changed for the worse after she joined the church. She was often away from home, prompting Yamagami’s older brother to call the uncle pleading for help because there was nothing to eat. The uncle said he provided the children with sushi and canned goods.

After graduating from senior high school, Yamagami entered a school to prepare for the civil servant exam, while his younger sister entered university.

The uncle paid for tuition and university entry fees because the mother did not. But the uncle also said there was a period when he stopped providing financial help because he feared it would end up being donated to the church.

The uncle said Yamagami dropped out of the school to prepare for the exam and entered the Maritime Self-Defense Force in 2002 to earn money.

The uncle was contacted by the MSDF in January 2005 and told that Yamagami had tried to commit suicide.

MSDF officials explained that Yamagami had told them he took out a life insurance policy on himself and attempted suicide because his life had become an absolute shambles and he wanted to do something for his brother and sister.

The uncle visited Yamagami in hospital. It was the last time he saw his nephew in person.