JAPANESE police have been looking for traces of poison in the home of a woman arrested on suspicion of killing her husband – one of six men who have died while in a relationship with her over the past 20 years.
Police said they suspect insurance claims or inheritance money could be the motive for the killings.
Chisako Kakehi, 67, was arrested in Kyoto prefecture after cyanide was found in the body of her 75-year-old husband who died in December 2013 weeks after their wedding, an official said. Police are also looking into the 2012 death of a previous partner.
Besides his death, police are also investigating the 2012 death of Kakehi’s 71-year-old then partner, who collapsed while riding a motorbike. Kakehi’s previous three husbands and three boyfriends were reportedly aged between 54 and 75 when they died. Each death allegedly took place within a few years of marrying or starting relationships with her.
Police visited Kakehi’s homes in Kyoto and Osaka yesterday, where they confiscated capsules and wafers to wrap powdered medicine, as well as books on drugs.
News outlets said Kakehi had met her latest husband Isao,, who had a life insurance policy,, through a matchmaking service. He was her fourth husband.
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Police are now working on a theory that she had a hand in the deaths of her previous partners.An investigator said: “We can’t say how many now. Given their advanced age, we have to proceed carefully to judge whether their deaths were actually the result of foul play or not.”
Reports have linked Kakehi’s partners’ deaths to large insurance payouts, with one report saying she had received hundreds of millions of yen over the past two decades.
Last night, it was reported in the Japanese media that Kakehi has been the beneficiary of a combined 800 million yen (£8.2m) over the past two decades in insurance money and other assets she received after the men’s deaths.
Kakehi has denied such accusations, and had earlier said she was simply “doomed by fate” to suffer a series of deaths.
“If people suspect murder, I’d find it easier to bite my tongue off and die,” she said in March.
All the deaths occurred in the western Japan area, including Kyoto and Osaka.
Kakehi caught the attention of authorities after she called an ambulance to rush her latest husband to a hospital, saying he suddenly collapsed at home.
An autopsy found cyanide in his blood, and investigators eventually ruled out suicide, leading to Kakehi’s arrest. She was being questioned by the prefectural prosecutor before a decision is made whether to press charges.
If she is found to have been involved in the deaths of numerous partners, Kakehi will become the latest example in Japan of a “black widow”, named for the female spider that devours its mate after coupling.
In 2012 Kanae Kijima was sentenced to hang for the murders of three men, aged 41, 53 and 80, whom she met through internet dating sites.
Kijima, who was at one time a mistress who charged for her services, poisoned her victims with carbon monoxide by burning charcoal briquettes after drugging them with sleeping tablets. She is in jail awaiting the outcome of an appeal to the supreme court.
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