The house where four members of a family were murdered on Dec 30, 2000, in Setagaya Ward, Tokyo Photo: KYODO
crime

Police in talks with Setagaya family murder victims’ relatives about demolishing crime scene

15 Comments

The Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is currently holding talks with relatives of a family of four who were murdered in their house in Setagaya Ward 19 years ago, about demolishing the house.

The two-story house has been unoccupied ever since the murders and police wish to get the relatives’ permission to demolish it as it has become dilapidated over time.

Although police have documented evidence of the inside of the house as well as a 3D video reproduction of the residence, the victims’ relatives say they would like to keep the home intact until a suspect is arrested, Fuji TV reported.

Mikio Miyazawa, 44, his 41-year-old wife Yasuko, 8-year-old daughter Niina, and 6-year-old son Rei, were found dead on the morning of Dec 31, 2000. Miyazawa's son had been strangled, and the other three had been stabbed to death. Fingerprints and other evidence in the home indicate the killer used the computer and ate ice cream after the attack on Dec 30, spending several hours in the house before leaving the next morning before dawn.

To preserve any evidence at the crime scene in the hope that some lead might turn up, police did not demolish the house. However, with the unsolved crime heading into its 19th year at the end of next month, police see no reason for preserving the home for years to come.

The house, currently surrounded by a blue tarpaulin, shows visible signs of aging, such as cracks in the outer walls, and rain has reportedly been leaking through the roof. Ward officials are also concerned that passers-by and curious crime buffs who get too close could be injured by fragments from walls or the home completely collapsing.  Citing these public safety concerns, police asked the relatives to reconsider demolishing the home.

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Approximately 246,000 officers have been involved in the case to date, and police have received more than 16,000 pieces of information from the public. Yet the killer remains at large. There is a reward of 20 million yen for information which leads to the arrest of the killer or killers.

Despite extensive detective work focusing on the killer's clothing, accessories, weapons, and other circumstantial evidence such as the sand found on the clothing that the killer abandoned at the scene, police have not identified any suspects.

Following the murders, police found out that the clothes, including a sweater, and knife left at the scene had been bought in Kanagawa Prefecture. Three kinds of powered fluorescent dye were found on the trainers and bag left at the scene. In the pocket of the sweater, which had only gone on sale two months before the killings took place, traces of bird dropping, Japanese zelkova tree and willow leaves were found.

Police learned that 130 of those particular sweaters had been sold in Tokyo but have been able to only track down the owners of 12.

DNA analysis has revealed that traces of blood (type A) found at the scene not belonging to the family suggests that the killer has a mother of European descent, possibly from a country near the Mediterranean or Adriatic Sea.

Analysis of the Y-chromosome has revealed that the killer's father is of Asian descent, with the DNA appearing in 1 in 4 or 5 Koreans, 1 in 10 Chinese, and 1 in 13 Japanese. He is believed to be about 170 cms tall and of thin build.

© Japan Today

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15 Comments
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Although police have documented evidence of the inside of the house as well as a 3D video reproduction of the residence, the victims’ relatives say they would like to keep the home intact until a suspect is arrested

I understand the feeling, but this is not realistic.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Who would pay and who will pay the land tax due if the house is demolished.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

I think Setagaya Ward and the neighborhood association should put their collective heads together and come up with a plan for demolition. Certainly whatever replaces that house should discourage morbid ghouls from making the scene. Time to move on.

It's doubtful this strange crime will ever be solved. I've read some bizarre theories about it in the Japanese media (one said the killer was a North Korean operative being "tested" to see if he could pull off a murder). None of usual breaks in a case have happened, and investigators have conceded they can't find anything in the victims' backgrounds that would explain their murders. The story will be long remembered because it dominated the headlines on New Year's Day, 2001.

-1 ( +0 / -1 )

The house is inside a park. All the surrounding houses were demolished years ago and so I imagine Setagaya will pay to have it demolished.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

This is article is very confusing: The opening "Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department is currently holding talks with relatives of a family of four who were murdered in their house in Setagaya Ward 19 years ago, about demolishing the house."

then it goes on to state "To preserve any evidence at the crime scene in the hope that some lead might turn up, police did not demolish the house. However, with the unsolved crime heading into its 19th year at the end of next month, police see no reason for preserving the home for years to come." I just don't understand what's the point?

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

I feel like... the 8 year old boy was strangled whereas the others were stabbed. Normally that would say that the boy was the original target, maybe he knew or had seen the boy in passing. At this point, if the mother was of European decent, there is likely to be (however distant) several familial hits on the killer in public databases. If there's enough, you could triangulate them and find a close enough relative to find out who the killer is.

It's hard to imagine that this hasn't been solved yet. There is so much evidence it seems incredibly unlikely that it wouldn't be solved at all - it's strange enough it hasn't been solved yet. I think it will just take that extra push to get what evidence they already have put through slightly more developed testing procedures. Any evidence that they might have possibly missed will be incredibly degraded in a leaky, basically open, old crime scene. I get why the family doesn't want to tear it down but it won't help as the whole scene has been compromised.

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

If the property is no longer weather tight then any remaining evidence will be degraded and unusable anyway. If it no longer serves a useful purpose, demolish it, allow the family to move on, but keep the case open, one day the perpetrator or a relative may give a DNA sample which could led to a break in the case.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

My initial impression is that if the killer remained afterwards, then he was probably used to such violence and may be a professional and/or committed other crimes afterwards and is in jail somewhere or dead. I doubt he could possibly be functioning as a normal member of society.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

I wonder if the police looked into old classmates the parents had. Its not uncommon for some people who were bullied or jealous to seek revenge many years later.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Normally you would not demolish a house because the roof leaked - you would just fix the roof.  With a fixed roof, the rest should last another 100 years.  My guess is that the police don't want to guard it 24x7 anymore.  To solve that problem, metal sheeting could be attached to the pipes which now support those tarps, with motion detection sensors on the inside.  If I were a relative, I do believe I would not want the house demolished in my lifetime.  There will be plenty of time to do so after all relatives who were alive at the time of the crime have passed on - say another 50 years?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Only the owners have the right to demolish. There are tens of thousands of abandoned houses around the country and once demolished then land tax becomes due.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It's an embarrassment to the cops, and they want it gone. Maybe they should pay the increased property taxes if it's demolished.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Along with the DNA evidence, the show print left matched a British shoe brand (Slazenger) that was manufactured by contract in South Korea (size 28cm footprint was found in the house). The shoe was sold by only one domestic shop in Japan, however the Japan shop sold only shoes of that brand from sizes 25cm-27cm.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Census records might show all Asian/ European couples with children. I'm sure police checked that. Just have to wait until passport has finger prints or another crime matches the prints. How would of that person known the family or just random.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

And I believed if there is a CCTV before this crime already close and solved. Thanks to the new technology now a days easy to catches and solved the crime.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

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