(TOKYO) -- Japanese police have arrested a 63-year-old man in connection with the grisly murder of five elderly residents in a remote, tiny village in western Japan.
The victims were found dead inside their homes in Mitake village last week, with the buildings set on fire.
Suspect Kosei Homi reportedly had taped a haiku to his home window that read, “Setting on fire / Smoke gives delight / To a country fellow,” though investigators have not directly linked the writings to his suspected crimes.
Following a massive manhunt that sent some 400 detectives into the mountains, police in Yamaguchi Prefecture say Homi was found less than a mile from the crime scenes, wearing nothing more than his underwear and no shoes.
He has admitted to the crimes, according to police.
“[Homi] appeared absolutely exhausted when investigators found him,” Yamaguchi police said. “He simply surrendered.”
The remains of Makoto Sadamori, 71, and his wife, Kiyoko, 72, were found inside their burned home on Sunday. Miles away, police found the body of Miyako Yamamoto, 79, inside her home, which was also torched. Two additional bodies were found brutally beaten the next day. Autopsies for all five victims revealed they died from blunt-force trauma.
Investigators say the suspect, who lived next door to Yamamoto, had been missing since the murder, leading them to believe he may have been involved with the crimes.
Five days after the manhunt began, they found Homi’s mobile phone, T-shirt and shorts less than a mile from one of the crime scenes, leading to his eventual arrest Friday morning.
Homi reportedly told police he planned to commit suicide, but “couldn’t go through with it,” Kyodo News reported.
According to local media reports, Homi returned to his hometown more than 10 years ago to look after his aging father. While he was actively involved with the community at first, he increasingly became isolated after his father’s death and was known to get into arguments with neighbors who complained about his dog, Asahi Shimbun said. One incident became so heated, he yelled, “You will see blood,” according to the newspaper.
The gruesome findings have put the residents of Mitake, a tiny village with less than 20 people, on edge for nearly a week.
“I am so relieved [about the arrest],” one resident told Nippon TV. “I can finally return to my normal, quiet life. I am so happy to hear the news.”
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