This poster shows the suspect in the murder of a 66-year-old woman in Yugawara, Kanagawa Prefecture, in 2015. Photo: Kanagawa Prefectural Police

Police appeal for help 7 years after arson-murder of woman in Kanagawa


Kanagawa prefectural police on Thursday appealed for the public to come forward with any information that might help catch the person responsible for the murder of a 66-year-old woman whose body was found in the ruins of her burned-out house in Yugawara seven years ago.

Police have put up posters at JR Yugawawa Station, containing a photo of a suspect taken from surveillance camera footage at the station between 5 a.m. and 6 a.m. on April 21, 2015. They also handed out leaflets about the crime to commuters at the station on Thursday.

On April 21, 2015, a passerby saw flames coming from the window of the 55-square-meter wooden house of Mie Harai at around 6 a.m.

After the fire was extinguished, the body of Harai was found on her bed, with a knife still in the right side of her forehead. Hirai lived alone and was confined to a wheelchair. An investigation showed that the fire started in the living room and that glass at the front entrance door had been smashed. In another development, an elderly man, who lives about 350 meters away from Hirai's house, was assaulted by a young man who hit him with a steel pipe after he returned home at around 12:10 a.m. on April 21.

The suspect is described as being about 170 cms tall and was wearing a black long-sleeved shirt and white face mask. He was also carrying a blue and white striped bag and had a black rucksack on his back.

Police said they have questioned 2,700 people since the murder. Anyone with any information is asked to call Odawara police at 0465-32-0110. Police have also opened a website on the case.

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Another case becoming “colder” as time passes but at least police are publicizing, to some extent, what they can on about the suspect outside of the crime scene(s).

12 ( +13 / -1 )

It’s all open to speculation. Just some observations & questions from what’s shown here in these grainy photos: (there may be more specific details in other news reports)

Does the rucksack have an “M”or “X” design in two of the photos?

The bags could be for the ‘murder kit’ (weapons, accelerant, change of clothes) with one to be discarded at another stop on the line.

The rucksack appears slung low in one photo compared with higher on the back in another photo (less weight?)

White sneakers with a distinctive design ?

Suspect’s Right hand kept in pocket in all three views; carrying the bag in Left hand.

The deceased was stabbed in the R. side of her forehead. Was the assailant left-handed ?

or, right-handed and attacked the victim from behind ?

Would also be beneficial to know on what side the living ‘witness’ at the other scene was struck

and, what items family members suspect may have been removed from the home(s) before the fire.

7 ( +10 / -3 )

Kind of late to do it now, I think.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

"Police said they have questioned 2,700 people since the murder. "

that's all?

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

"Police have put up posters at JR Yugawawa Station, containing a photo of a suspect taken from surveillance camera"

Perhaps some may possibly speculate the suspected perp may possibly have avoided that station and vicinity. The ward offices keep heavy documentation on past living area changes to new living areas, with copies of last known occupation and and addresses, and usuall with updated copies at kobans in a ward, esp for non jns. Not to mention curious ones watching new neighbors, faces and the millions of street cameras 2015.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

In a country where neighbors don't know their neighbors, criminals like this one has super easy time escaping the police.

1 ( +3 / -2 )

Chance to find a criminal lowers drastically with time.

It has become useless.

You never see that just days after the crime.

And the physical description of the criminal is so low in details it could be half of Japanese population.

There is no even indication of the sex of the criminal !

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

Difficult to solve, because you can see such similar city nomads in all bigger cities quite often. Seeing them you can’t even tell if homeless or only niito, precarious, temporary job people, quasi-hikikomori etc. Often some of the clothes or other accessories/ equipment has even quite expensive branding. And even if caught he / she / X doesn’t have to be the real one that is still out there or already in prison for another case. Anyway, that special one time combination of clothes, sneakers, rucksack and bag is very unique, so it is not only disturbing that they can’t quickly find that person and in addition I also guess no killer would walk around in public such eye-catching and attention drawing.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Taking DNA and finger prints at birth would really help in cases like this if any samples were left at the crime scene.

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

I can see why criminals and their supporters wouldn't like the idea of having a DNA data base but regular law abiding people?

-12 ( +0 / -12 )

zichiToday  08:46 pm JST

Some would prefer living in a police state. Not me.

I guess you'll never leave Japan and re-enter, since you need to provide your thumbprints.

My family fought wars for freedom.

99% of posters here can say the same.

3 ( +6 / -3 )

Heard that, too @MrKipling yet, police aren’t releasing those details.

4 ( +7 / -3 )

A good way to put the heat on the perp is the police should do a similar news article similiar to the one they just posted only to say they are getting close to identifying the suspect. Reason being is they can say with new investigative techniques that they didn't have before and with these new developments and technology they will soon be making an arrest. I guarantee that person would either turn himself in or commit suicide. The only reason they probably have not caught this perp is because they are asking for help and he knows they have little or no evidence at all to catch him!!

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

zichiApr. 22  02:53 pm JST

It is easy to see from the photos and video, that the suspect is a male.

Have you been studying Japan police methodology again? Now if the suspect had looked foreign, They might have had to do their own job rather than lazily throw it out to the general public...

2700 people questioned? Really?

" Seen this fella?"


"Thanks for your help."

kaimycahlApr. 22  10:11 pm JST

new investigative techniques 

Riiight, in Japan. A different way to plaster up 'Wanted posters' perhaps?

-2 ( +2 / -4 )

zichiToday  03:25 am JST


look at the video.

I did, before I commented, in fact- Seemed apt.

Thanks for presuming otherwise.

-1 ( +2 / -3 )

In regards to @zichi’s counter to @0rei0, @JonathanPrin’s 2:36pm questioning the perhaps, still unknown gender of the suspect is still there: “There is no even indication of the sex of the criminal !” -

1 ( +2 / -1 )

In the early days of the case, it was reported by other mediaL “The individual cannot be seen clearly and is unclear if it is a man or a woman, they said.”

4 ( +5 / -1 )

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