"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.
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 Konnos began to receive strange telephone calls that would ring, unanswered, for up to 20 minutes. 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.
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.
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 minutes later, a man emerged from the surrounding woods, carrying a sheet. He opened the trunk 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 Konnos 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
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.
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; he was executed by hanging on July 17, 2008.
"The Silencing of the Lambs" by Carles T. Whipple: http://www.charlest.whipple.net/miyazaki.html
Crime Library.com: http://www.crimelibrary.com/serial_killers/weird/lecter/3.html