A serial killer has emerged in Japan in the form of Takahiro Shiraishi, who has been infamously dubbed as the “Twitter Killer” and was involved in the Zama Suicide Pact Slayings.
In 2017, when news broke of a young man keeping dismembered bodies in his freezer, the world was shocked to find out that the killer not only lacked remorse for his actions but even admitted to more than what his lawyers claimed regarding the slayings.
To understand the true atrocity behind Shiraishi’s modus operandi, we’ve dissected the story into several parts. Here’s how the “Twitter Killer” came to be…
Who is Takahiro Shiraishi?
Jobless, inconspicuous and quiet, Takahiro Shiraishi came from a divorced family. Allegedly, he was obsessed with choking and strangling games in high school, according to a former friend of his.
After graduating, Shiraishi started picking up odd jobs while he maintained his Twitter account. The appeal of his Twitter came from his username, ‘Hangman’, and description which alluded to him being an assistant to those who have been contemplating suicide. His bio read along the lines of: “I want to help people who are really in pain. Please DM [direct message] me anytime.”
In 2017, Japan recorded the highest suicide rate at 14.9 per 100,000 people. Shiraishi capitalised off this opportunity to lure vulnerable people, especially women, into his home to assist them in killing themselves. At times, he even promised his victims that he would kill himself alongside them.
How did he kill his victims?
Not only did Shiraishi use social media as his tool to lure victims, he even posted advertisements to “promote his services.” The ad stated that he would help and even watch people kill themselves.
While his lawyers claim that his victims gave their “consent” to being murdered since he specifically selected those who wanted to die, Shiraishi went against his lawyers’ claims and proudly stated that he had beat them prior to their deaths, emphasising that he indeed killed them without their consent. In most cases, he raped and sexually assaulted his victims which was evident due to the numerous bruises on their bodies. Shiraishi commented,
“There were bruises on the back of the victims’ heads. It means there was no consent and I did it so that they wouldn’t resist.”
As if that wasn’t enough, he robbed his victims as well since he owed one of them ¥360,000 (RM14,155).
After killing his victims, he would dismember them and either save their body parts in his freezer or bury them in cat litter. Police found over 200 bone fragments in his apartment.
Who were his victims?
A total of 9 people have been confirmed to be the victims of Shiraishi, 8 being women. The only male victim was allegedly either the partner or brother of one of the victims who confronted Shiraishi on his loved one’s disappearance. The youngest victim was still a high school student, aged 15.
The female victims had expressed suicidal tendencies on social media which is where Shiraishi poached them. After finding his Twitter account, they believed he was the solution to their dilemma.
What is the aftermath?
In court, Shiraishi confirmed all the allegations against him. If convicted, he would be sentenced to death by hanging. Over 600 clamoured to get a seat at the 13 seat gallery where his hearing will be held. If his lawyers can prove that his victims gave their consent to the murders, his sentence will be reduced to 6 months to 7 years maximum.
Twitter’s chief executive, Jack Dorsey, commented on the situation, stating that it was “extremely sad”.
Since Japan is notorious for its high suicide rates, the country is reviewing regulations on users who have expressed suicidal intentions. Twitter Japan has started allowing users to be linked to nonprofit organisations on suicide prevention work whenever certain keywords related to suicide are searched.