Japan’s ‘Twitter Killer’ sentenced to death for serial murders

This court sketch drawing created by Masato Yamashita on September 30, 2020 shows Takahiro Shiraishi, centre, at the first trial at Tokyo District Court Tachikawa Branch in Tachikawa, Tokyo. MASATO YAMASHITA/JIJI PRESS/AFP via Getty Images

WARNING: This story contains details that some may find disturbing. Please read at your own discretion.

A Japanese court has sentenced a serial killer to death for preying upon suicidal victims on social media, which earned him the nickname “Twitter Killer.”

Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, was ordered to face the death penalty on Tuesday in a Tokyo District Court, some three years after police found the bodies of nine victims in cold storage at his apartment outside Tokyo.

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Shiraishi had pleaded guilty to killing, dismembering and storing the bodies of eight women and one man at his home. He has said he will not appeal his death sentence.

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Authorities say Shiraishi sought out victims on social media, where he used the nickname “Hangman.” He would look for people in crisis and offer them help with fulfilling their suicidal thoughts.

Shiraishi lured the women to his apartment for an assisted death, then raped and killed them, authorities said. Some of his victims were teenagers.

The killer strangled and dismembered nine victims between August and October of 2017, according to the indictment. He also sexually assaulted the women.

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Shiraishi also killed one victim’s boyfriend to prevent him from talking, investigators said.

The killer’s lawyers initially claimed that he had the victim’s consent to kill them, but Shiraishi later said he did not.

Judge Naokuni Yano said in the ruling that none of the victims had agreed to be killed. He also described the crimes as heinous and frightening to the general public, according to media reports.

The judge also found that Shiraishi was mentally fit to be held responsible for the murders.

Executions are carried out by hanging in Japan. The date is not announced until after the execution is complete.

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Japan has one of the world’s highest suicide rates.

With files from The Associated Press


If you or someone you know is in crisis and needs help, resources are available. In case of an emergency, please call 911 for immediate help.

For a directory of support services in your area, visit the Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention.

Learn more about how to help someone in crisis.

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