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Thursday, April 13, 2017

Chisako Kakehi: Japan's Black Widow Serial Killer Case

     Japan is home to one of the fastest aging populations in the world. Japanese people are living longer and fewer of them live with their adult children. (This is also the trend in America.)

     Japanese men and women in their 70s whose spouses have died are lonely and vulnerable to a variety of crimes that includes murder. Many of them, desperate for companionship in their so-called golden years, access online dating services that cater to lonely senior citizens,

The Alleged Black Widow

     In 1964, 18-year-old Chisako, (Chisako, because of her multiple marriages, has many names. We'll use this one for now.) a bright, ambitious high school graduate from Muko, a small industrial suburb of the city of Kyoto, married a truck driver who later started a small printing company. Although Chisako had the intelligence and desire to attend college, her conservative parents, not wanting to waste a higher education on a woman, denied her that opportunity. She ended up working as a bank clerk, a job she felt was beneath her.

     In 1994, Chisako's husband suddenly fell ill and died at the age of 54. The authorities determined his death to be natural, and pursuant to custom in Japan, his body was cremated.,

     In 2004, Chisako, now 48, married the 67-year-old president of a small drug company. Two years later he got sick and died. With no reason to suspect foul play, the authorities listed his death as natural. His remains were also cremated.

     In May 2008, after being married to Chisako for less than two months, a 75-year-old landowner became ill and suddenly died. Two months after that, the 73-year-old clothing boutique owner Chisako was dating suddenly dropped dead. Although this was the fourth man connected to Chisako by marriage or romance to die suddenly, this man's passing did not catch the attention of law enforcement. As a result it was labeled a natural death. It seemed that when it came to partners, this woman had a lot of bad luck. She was, however, becoming rich.

     In 2012, after Chisako's 71-year-old fiance fell off his motorcycle and died, the police, now suspicious, ordered a blood test that revealed the presence of the poison cyanide. This man had been murdered and Chisako became the prime suspect in the case.

     While under investigation for the poisoning murder of her fiancee, Chisako married again, this time to a 75-year-old man named Isao Kakehi. Mr. Kakehi, a longtime widower, had a substantial savings account and owned his own home. One month after marrying Chisako, he ended up dead on the floor of his dwelling. Following the initial cause of death ruling of heart failure, a test of Isao Kakehi's blood revealed a lethal dose of cyanide.

     In November 2014, detectives with the Kyoto Prefectural Police arrested Chisako Kahehi on suspicion of murder in the death of Mr. Kakehi and the death of the poisoned fiance who fell off his motorcycle in 2012. When the fiance died from cyanide poisoning, Chisako was dating at least two other elderly men. Chisako's arrest probably saved their lives.

     Detectives, in December 2014, recovered a small bag of cyanide that had been hidden in a plant pot Chisako Kakehi had thrown away.

     According to investigators, the suspected serial killer's M.O. had been simple and direct. She used the online dating services to find lonely, moderately wealthy men whom she showered with romantic emails professing her undying love. Shortly after she married the man she had targeted, she pressured him to change his will to make her the sole beneficiary of his estate.

     Chisako Kakahi, dubbed by Japan's tabloid media as the "Black Widow," had amassed $8 million of her victims' money. Since she was richer than her last two or three victims, money may not have been her primary motive. She may have killed these men out of anger and resentment against a male-dominated society that did not recognize her worth.

     While the Chisako Kakahi serial murder case is based on circumstantial evidence--no one saw her poison these men and she has not confessed--it's hard to explain these deaths in any other way.

     As of April 2017, Chisako Kakahi has not had her day in court. This serial murder case, however, has highlighted a problem in Japan's criminal justice system. Because of a critical shortage of forensic pathologists in Japan, autopsies were not conducted on six of Kakehi's suspected eight victims. In 2014, only 11.7 percent of "unusual deaths" resulted in autopsies. In England, that percentage is 40 percent. In Sweden, it's 95 percent.

     

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