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Woman arrested on suspicion of murder after 3 bodies found in central Japan home

The house in Tsuruga, Fukui Prefecture, where three bodies were found is seen from a Mainichi Shimbun helicopter on Nov. 17, 2019. (Mainichi/Tadashi Kako)

TSURUGA, Fukui -- A 71-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of murder after three bodies were found in a house in this central Japan city on the morning of Nov. 17, police reported.

Fukui Prefectural Police arrested Masako Kishimoto, 71, on suspicion of killing her 70-year-old husband Takio around Nov. 17. A towel was found near the body of Takio, who was found dead in a bedroom on the second floor of their home in the Fukui Prefecture city of Tsuruga, and police suspect that Masako strangled him with the towel. The other two bodies found in the home were Takio's father Yoshio, 93, and mother Shinobu, 95. The elderly couple was found in a bedroom on the first floor.

According to prefectural police, a relative who was contacted by Masako called police, and officers from the Tsuruga Police Station confirmed the bodies at the site. Masako had taken sleeping pills before the officers arrived and was sent to hospital. Her condition is said not to be life-threatening. She has reportedly admitted to the allegations and was quoted as telling investigators, "I strangled the three."

According to police and neighbors, the four lived together in the same house. Takio had served as the chairman of a local construction company where Masako also worked as an executive. Takio suffered a cerebral infarction several years ago and had since used a cane. Shinobu also had a disability certified for level-1 nursing care -- the third in the seven-stage care level in terms of assistance required -- and Masako had been taking care of her husband as well as parents-in-law for about two years.

Police believe that Masako's exhaustion from taking care of her elderly family members may have been a motive behind the incident.

A neighbor in his 60s told the Mainichi Shimbun, "The couple (Takio and Masako) appeared to be getting along fine and they were showing no signs of trouble."

(Japanese original by Hisashi Tsukamoto and Chika Yokomi, Fukui Bureau)

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