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Suspect apparently lured victims in Zama dismemberment case by studying suicide

Flowers and offerings are seen near the apartment, top left, where the remains of nine people were found, in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, on Nov. 10, 2017. (Mainichi)

The man arrested in connection with the discovery of the remains of nine people in an apartment in Kanagawa Prefecture told police that his online study of suicide enabled him to gain victims' attention, a source close to the investigation has said.

"From around August onward, I accumulated knowledge on suicide through internet searches. I discovered that increasing numbers of people were interested in my talk of wanting to 'help people take their own lives,'" the 27-year-old suspect, Takahiro Shiraishi, was quoted as telling law enforcers. He was also quoted as saying that the first alleged victim, 21-year-old Mizuki Miura, was "the first woman I managed to lure."

According to the source, Shiraishi began to connect with suicidal women on Twitter from March onward. He started to communicate with Miura on Aug. 8. Apparently, they met for the first time on Aug. 13.

On Aug. 18, Shiraishi went to view an apartment. Then, on Aug. 19, he and Miura visited a real estate agency together, and Shiraishi pressed ahead with an apartment contract.

"I received 510,000 yen (about $4,500) from the woman to cover costs relating to the apartment -- which I then rented in order to carry out the crimes," Shiraishi was quoted as saying.

It was also around this time that the suspect began to gather tools that could be used to dismember corpses, such as saws.

Shiraishi moved into the apartment on Aug. 22. The same day, Miura went missing after messaging her family to say, "I'll be back home after work." A few days later, on Aug. 25, her cellphone was found near Enoshima, in Fujisawa, Kanagawa Prefecture.

Following his arrest, Shiraishi had apparently been cooperating with police, but he has recently been less responsive and has refused to sign confessions.

On Nov. 10, the Tokyo District Court's Tachikawa branch agreed to an extension of Shiraishi's period of detention. The term finishes on Nov. 20. The Metropolitan Police Department aims to put together a murder case.

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