The "Twitter killer" found his targets by scouring the social networking site, looking for people who were suicidal and promised to help them die.
On Tuesday, December 15, a Japanese court sentenced a man to death for killing and dismembering nine people, according to NBC News. The Tokyo District Court Tachikawa branch confirmed that the man, known as the "Twitter killer" pleaded guilty to committing nine murders between August and October 2017, as per CNN. Takahiro Shiraishi, 30, was convicted of murdering, raping, dismembering, and storing the bodies of nine victims in his apartment in Zama, near Tokyo.
Shiraishi pleaded guilty to his crimes and mentioned he would not appeal his death sentence. More than 400 people turned up to witness Shiraishi's verdict live, despite the fact that there were only 16 seats in the courtroom availabe for the public.
A report by BBC states that his victims -8 women and one man- were people he met via the social networking site, Twitter. Shiraishi found his targets via tweets shared by people who had shown suicidal tendencies on the platform. He would find his victims by assuring them that he would help them die. In some cases, he even promised them he would die with them. His victims were all between the age of 15 to 26.
The serial killings first came to light during Halloween in 2017 after police found dismembered body parts in Shiraishi's flat while they were on the search for a missing 23-year-old woman, who turned out to be one of the victims. The woman had previously expressed suicidal thoughts via social media, including Twitter, as per reports.
After the victim went missing, her brother scoured through her Twitter account, and he stumbled upon Shiraishi's handle, and it seemed rather suspicious to him. That suspicion led the cops to Shiraishi's residence on the morning of 31 October in 2017.
He murdered nine people after luring them over Twitter. Now Japan has sentenced Takahiro Shiraishi to death. https://t.co/wfRYzpwdyk— BBC Breaking News (@BBCBreaking) December 15, 2020
Shiraishi's house was referred to as the "house of horrors" after investigators discovered nine heads along with a large number of arm and leg bones with the flesh scraped off, and stashed in coolers and tool boxes. Though prosecutors sought death penalty for Shiraishi, his lawyers argued that he was to be charged with a lesser sentence because he murdered the victims with their consent.
Later Shiraishi himself admitted in court that the murders took place without the victims' consent. Judge Naokuni Yano, who delivered the verdict, called the crimes "cunning and cruel", and found the defendant "fully responsible" for his actions. The judge said, "None of the nine victims consented to be killed, including silent consent."
"It is extremely grave that the lives of nine young people were taken away. The dignity of the victims was trampled upon." The identities of the victims have been protected but the father of one victim, aged 25, told the court last month that he would "never forgive Shiraishi even if he dies", as per Japanese media.
Takahiro Shitaishi, Japanese man who murdered 9 people after contacting them on Twitter has been sentenced to death, in a high-profile case that has shocked the country. Takahiro Shiraishi, dubbed the "Twitter killer", was arrested in 2017 after body parts were found in his flat. pic.twitter.com/MV4hbXtEVb— ZonkNews (@Zonknews20) December 15, 2020
"Even now, when I see a woman of my daughter's age, I mistake her for my daughter. This pain will never go away. Give her back to me," he had said. The father of another victim, 17, said the sentence was "appropriate." "I feel like I want to get revenge, but bereaved families can't do anything. I don't know how to vent my anger," he said. The brother of a 25-year-old victim said his "heart died" when he heard Shiraishi's testimony. "It didn't sound at all like he regretted it... It felt like I was being hurt with a sharp knife over and over again." Sadly, Japan has been battling one of the largest numbers of suicide, and the serial killings by Shiraishi only triggered debate over how suicide is discussed online.