Man who lured victims on social media tells court they WANTED to die

‘Twitter killer’ who lured nine victims to their death on social media after they expressed suicidal thoughts tells Japanese court they all WANTED him to kill them as he denies murder

  • Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, admitted to killing all nine of his victims in court today
  • But his lawyers have argued the charges against him should be reduced
  • Shiraishi – who faces the death penalty – argues all his victims wanted to die
  • He lured victims in using a Twitter account, targeting those with suicidal posts 

A Japanese man dubbed the ‘Twitter killer’ for luring victims to their death on social media admitted in court on Wednesday to killing nine people.

But lawyers for Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, argued the charges should be reduced because the victims – who had expressed suicidal thoughts – wanted him to kill them.

Shiraishi, who is also accused of dismembering his victims and storing body parts in coolboxes, did not contest nine counts of murder, saying they ‘are all correct’, public broadcaster NHK reported.

Japanese man Takahiro Shiraishi, 29, pictured covering his face, has been dubbed the ‘Twitter killer’ after he used social media to lure in his victims. He has pleaded guilty to nine murders, but claims that the people wanted him to kill them

He is accused of using Twitter to contact victims aged between 15 and 26 who talked online about committing suicide, telling them he could help them in their plans – or even die alongside them.

His lawyers want the charges against him reduced to ‘murder with consent’, which carries a prison sentence of between six months and seven years.

He is also facing rape charges, according to media reports. 

Shiraishi was detained three years ago by police investigating the disappearance of a 23-year-old woman who had reportedly tweeted about wanting to take her own life.

After she went missing, her brother apparently gained access to her Twitter account, and noticed a suspicious handle.

Police uncovered a grisly house of horrors behind Shiraishi’s front door on the morning of Halloween in 2017. 

Nine dismembered bodies, with as many as 240 bone parts stashed in coolers and toolboxes, has been sprinkled with cat litter in a bid to hide the evidence.

On Twitter, his profile featured a manga drawing showing a man whose neck and wrist are scarred and who is wearing a rope around his neck alongside a bio describing his expertise in hanging, Japan Times reported.

Shiraishi has admitted to killing all nine of his victims, but his lawyers have argued that charges should be reduced because they all wanted to die

The profile explained: ‘I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM me anytime.’

In a post made on October 21, Shiraishi wrote: ‘Bullying is everywhere, in school and at work.

‘There must be many people in society who are suffering after attempting suicides, though their cases are not reported in the news. I want to help such people.’

More than 600 people lined up for 13 public gallery seats to observe Wednesday’s first hearing, NHK said.

If convicted of murder Shiraishi faces the death penalty, which is carried out by hanging in Japan.  

Reports in 2017 – including NHK public television – said his first victim was a woman whom he got in touch with via Twitter, offering to assist her suicide wish, then killing her boyfriend to silence him.

They said Shiraishi used similar tactics to kill seven other women. 

The reports explained that one of the women contacted Shiraishi via Twitter in late September, seeking a partner for a suicide pact and saying she was afraid to die alone.

Police discovered a grisly house of horrors in Shiraishi’s apartment in a Tokyo suburb last month, where they found coolboxes filled with body parts

 Nine dismembered bodies, with as many as 240 bone parts stashed in coolers and toolboxes, has been sprinkled with cat litter in a bid to hide the evidence

The two were recorded by security cameras walking together outside railway stations near her residence and the suspect’s apartment, the reports added.

Japan has the highest suicide rate among the Group of Seven industrialised nations, with more than 20,000 people taking their lives annually. 

While the suicide rate has been falling since it peaked in 2003, it remain particularly high among young adults and schoolchildren.

The woman’s brother reported her disappearance to police the next day.

When he sought information about his sister’s disappearance on Twitter, an unidentified woman replied that she had met Shiraishi and agreed to cooperate with police by setting up a fake appointment.

Two investigators then followed Shiraishi back to his apartment and knocked on the door, public broadcaster NHK said.

When they asked him if he knew where the missing woman was, Shiraishi pointed to one of eight coolers, saying ‘She is in here’, NHK said, quoting investigative sources.  

Some 500 Japanese under 20 years of age kill themselves each year and a Nippon Foundation survey last year showed that one in four people had seriously considered suicide.

In some cases, victims have committed mass suicide after meeting on so-called ‘suicide websites’, a phenomenon that has prompted the government to crack down on people using the internet to post their death wishes.

Shiraishi’s Twitter profile (pictured) – which he used to lure victims who had expressed suicidal thoughts – explained: ‘I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM me anytime’

Policemen gather in front of an apartment where Japanese police found nine bodies with their heads severed and dumped in cooler boxes in Zama, Kanagawa prefecture

The issue first hit the headlines in 2005, with 91 people in total committing ‘group suicide’ after contacting each other online. 

‘It has long been a taboo in Japan to talk about death and suicide… but it’s easy to talk about it on social media,’ Akiko Mura, an executive member of Befrienders Worldwide Tokyo, told AFP in 2017.

She said Shiraishi would have likely gained the victims’ trust by convincing them that he understood their desire to die.

‘They might have thought he was the only person who would sincerely listen to their problems,’ she said.

Although Shiraishi was able to exploit social media to target his victims, Mura warned that depressed people need an outlet for their feelings amid calls at the time to restrict suicide posts on social media.

‘People need a place where they can be heard,’ she said. ‘Without it, I’m afraid the number of suicides might even increase.’

Four days after the bodies were found in Shiraishi’s apartment in a Tokyo suburb, Twitter unveiled new rules stating that users ‘may not promote or encourage suicide or self-harm’ but it stopped short of banning tweets expressing a wish to kill oneself.

‘Quiet child’ who became sex scout

People who lived in the neighborhood remembered the young Shiraishi as a ‘quiet child who was able to socialise with neighbours’.

At school, his grades were far from stellar but he was an attentive pupil, who ‘didn’t especially stand out but was not a gloomy character either’, according to a former classmate cited in the Asahi Shimbun.

He enjoyed athletics and baseball and was ‘a good listener rather than someone who would speak about himself’, another school contemporary told a local Tokyo paper.

One person claiming to be a former schoolmate took to Twitter saying he was so ‘normal, inconspicuous and low-profile’ that most classmates would not even recognise him when news of his alleged crimes broke.

But the warning signs were perhaps there as one elementary-school contemporary told the private Fuji TV network that Shiraishi and his friends enjoyed choking each other for ‘fun’.

‘He once passed out while playing the choking game,’ the man, who did not wish to be identified, told the show.

The Mainichi Shimbun has reported that two of the bodies showed signs of strangulation, one had broken neck bones and another had bleeding patterns typically associated with choking. 

‘Creepy’ sex scout with a ‘gentle character’

After graduating from high school in 2009, Shiraishi got a full-time job at a supermarket but quit just over two years later.

At that point, he began to work as a scout for sex parlours in Kabukicho, Tokyo’s biggest red-light district, seeking to lure young women into working in the clubs there.

In February, he was arrested and eventually handed a suspended jail sentence for recruiting a young woman for a sex shop in the full knowledge that she would be pressed into prostitution.

Several people tweeted about a ‘creepy scout’, with one person apparently employed in the same business as the suspect posting a photo of him with the caption: ‘Watch out for this scout.’

Shiraishi appeared to have a close relationship with his father, a designer of automobile parts, after his mother and younger sister left to live closer to the girl’s school in central Tokyo.

And a woman who said she was in a relationship with him until summer 2016 described him as a ‘gentle character’ who was ‘never angry with women.’

‘When I told him that I wanted to break up, he hugged me and said something like ‘Don’t go’,’ the women told Fuji TV.

‘Professional hangman’

Things started going downhill for Shiraishi in 2017 when he is reported to have told his father: ‘I don’t know why I’m alive.’

On August 22, he moved into the one-room apartment in Zama, a southwestern suburb of Tokyo, that would become the apparent scene of multiple murders.

He set up several Twitter accounts, advertising himself as a ‘professional hangman’ and contacting young women who said they had suicidal tendencies.

He is reported to have told investigators that he killed his victims ‘as soon as he met them’ and then ‘did some work on the bodies’ to cover up his alleged crimes.

According to the Japan Times, he told police that the first time he dismembered a body, it took him three days but that ‘from the second person, I was able to do it within a day.’

Several media report the police found scissors, knives, a saw and woodwork tools in his flat.

One former hostess said on Twitter she had a lucky escape after her parlour turned down Shiraishi, who wanted to take her on a ‘date’.

‘The parlour politely declined it but if it hadn’t, I would have been dead, wouldn’t I? I get chills,’ tweeted the woman. 

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