There Are Devils About: The Otaku Killer

August 21st, 1962. In the town of Itsukaichi, now known as Akigawa, a child was born with a strange birth defect. A small boy with deformed hands, he was named Tsutomu Miyazaki. A premature baby, the boy’s hands appeared claw-like with many of his hand and wrist bones fused together. This meant simple tasks like rotating one’s hand, required Miyazaki to rotate his entire forearm as well. This disability quickly caused issues for the young boy. Despite being a bright kid, it was incredibly difficult for him to make new friends. This trend would follow him throughout his years of schooling and he would soon become a loner.

He would eventually find himself enrolled in Meidai Nakano High School in Nakano. Initially, he continued to do well in his studies but soon his grades began to suffer. His aspirations of being a teacher were dismissed, deciding to instead focus on photography. In addition to his failing social life, his home life was not much better. Miyazaki had a strained relationship with almost everyone in his family. His parents pressuring him to do well so he could potentially enter the family business, a printing company. His sisters thought he was strange and barely acknowledged him. The only family member to really embrace him was his grandfather. The two were extremely close and when his grandfather died in May 1988 Miyazaki took it extremely hard.

 Tsutomo Miyazaki; The Otaku Killer

Tsutomo Miyazaki; The Otaku Killer

He became even more of a recluse and was becoming increasingly more deranged. In an attempt to keep some of his grandfather’s memory alive, he alleged to have eaten some of the cremated remains of his family member. Miyazaki would also claim to have killed cats and dogs around this time as well. It is unclear when his strange sexual appetite started but one incident that highlights Miyazaki’s repressed feelings was when he was discovered spying on one of his sisters while she was changing. He attacked her in response, which alerted their mother. She too would be attacked by Miyazaki for attempting to intervene. This was just the beginning. Miyazaki was prepared to show the world just how depraved he had become and how unhinged his grandfather’s passing left him.

August 22nd, 1988. Just one day after his 26th birthday, Miyazaki would commit his first murder. Reports online have varied but it was stated 4-year-old Mari Konno was either walking to or from a friend’s house when Miyazaki approached her. Miyazaki asked if he could show her something and Mari happily agreed to go. She got into Miyazaki’s black Nissan Langley and began driving, stopping in a secluded, wooded area. The two sat in the car for sometime before Miyazaki attacked her, strangling the young girl until she died. He would go on to sexually abuse the corpse before dumping her on a hillside. He would take multiple photographs and take all of the girl’s clothes as mementos from his first kill. Miyazaki would pay another visit to the site days later, after the body had started to decompose and removed the child’s hands and feet. Other bones he pulverized and burned in his furnace.

While all of the above events were unfolding, Mari’s father was calling the police, distraught that his young daughter had failed to return home. Evening had set in and no one had seen Mari for hours. Police began questioning everyone in the area around Mari’s home. Witnesses reported seeing her in the company of a strange man, “pudgy with curly hair”, but all leads grew cold. All police could do was warn other parents and instruct the community to keep their eyes open for anything suspicious in the Mari Konno disappearance. Thousands of flyers were posted all around the area in an effort to keep the case fresh in local’s minds. Shortly after the disappearance of their daughter, the Konnos began receiving strange phone calls which would go on ringing until someone would answer. As soon as the phone receiver was picked up the caller would quickly hang up. The family also received an ominous postcard which simply read “There are devils about.” which was interpreted as a joke by law enforcement.

 Alleged image of the claw like hands of the Otaku Killer.

Alleged image of the claw like hands of the Otaku Killer.

It took less than 2 months for Miyazaki to strike once more. On October 3rd 1988, 7-year-old Masami Yoshizawa was walking along a road by herself. Miyazaki offered the child a ride and like the previous victim, she accepted. Miyazaki would proceed to drive the girl to the same location as his previous victim. Before his attack, he took several photographs of the child first as keepsakes from his second crime. He would go on to strangle the victim then sexual abuse the corpse. Again just like his previous victim, he would take the child’s clothing. Masami would be discarded within walking distance of Mari. Investigators had no leads, but suspected that Masami’s disappearance was linked to Mari’s. Authorities would post flyers throughout her neighborhood in an effort to locate her.

Another 2 months would pass before Miyazaki would start stalking the streets once more. December 12th, 1988. 4-year-old Erika Namba was coming back from a friend’s house when Miyazaki just grabbed her and threw the young girl into his car. She would be taken to a parking lot in Naguri. She began to cry as Miyazaki force her to take inappropriate photographs. He would soon pounce on the child, strangling her and killing her shortly after taking the pictures. He would tie young Erika’s body up, wrap it in a bed sheet and place her in the trunk of his car.

He would drive to a wooded area to dispose of her clothing and her body. It is unclear if Miyazaki parked poorly or attempted to drive off-road but his car became stuck in a ditch. Before attempting to fix this problem he decided to dispose of his first one in the nearby woods. Walking back to his vehicle carrying only a sheet he was approached by some men who offered to help the unknown murderer free his vehicle. The vehicle was freed and Miyazaki sped away without saying a word. Erika’s family would report the child missing that night. Police were now feeling the pressure, 3 missing children in a few short months with no concrete clues or leads. A task force was created to help find the suspect who was abducting and murdering these children.

The next day, a local worker found some of Erika’s clothing and an immediate search of the vicinity was started. The following day, her corpse would be found in the woods, bound with cord. The task force performed a more thorough search of the area following the discovery of the body in the hopes that more evidence would be found, but nothing. The 2 men who helped Miyazaki quickly came forward to describe the strange man and his car. Unfortunately they failed to accurately describe the car, leading investigators down a rabbit hole that went nowhere. Erika’s family would go on to receive strange phone calls and also received a very disturbing postcard. The postcard lettering was arranged through letters clipped from newspapers and read: “Erika. Cold. Cough. Throat. Rest. Death.”

Investigators were stuck and had no leads on moving forward. Months had passed and in the back of people’s minds, one can be certain that some were thinking the killer could have stopped. Unfortunately that would not be the case.

 Miyazaki being lead down a road.

Miyazaki being lead down a road.

Miyazaki would further taunt the family of his first victim. Miyazaki took the last of Mari Konno’s remains and destroyed them in a furnace. He collected the powder in a small box. He also would place several teeth, clothing, and pictures of Mari within the box as well. A postcard was also paired with the box which stated,  "Mari. Cremated. Bones. Investigate. Prove."

Early on the morning of February 6th, 1989, Mari’s father found the box on his doorstep. After opening and seeing what was inside he immediately called the police, who initially thought it to be a prank. Police thought there was no way these were the remains of Mari and it was backed up by a Dr. Suzuki from the Tokyo Dental University. This sentiment was shared with the media and reported across the country. On February 11th, another letter was sent along with a photo of Mari to reporters stating the following: "I put the cardboard box with Mari's remains in it in front of her home. I did everything. From the start of the Mari incident to the finish. I saw the police press conference where they said the remains were not Mari's. On camera, her mother said the report gave her new hope that Mari might still be alive. I knew then that I had to write this confession so Mari's mother would not continue to hope in vain. I say again: the remains are Mari's." - Yuko Imada. The name Yuko Imada was a pseudonym for "Now I'll tell."

After learning the truth, the Konno’s held a service and a funeral for their daughter on March 11th. Once they returned a new letter was found at their home with the following: “Before I knew it, the child's corpse had gone rigid. I wanted to cross her hands over her breast but they wouldn't budge. . . . Pretty soon, the body gets red spots all over it... Big red spots. Like the Hinomaru flag. Or like you'd covered her whole body with red hanko seals... After a while, the body is covered with stretch marks. It was so rigid before, but now it feels like its full of water. And it smells. How it smells. Like nothing you've ever smelled in this whole wide world." - Yoku Imada

 Miyazaki being lead by authorities once more.

Miyazaki being lead by authorities once more.

June 6th, 1989. 5-year-old Ayako Nomoto was playing in a park by herself when she was approached by Miyazaki. He asked if he could take pictures of the girl and she agreed to go along with the stranger. The two walked back to Miyazaki’s car, where Miyazaki quickly grew annoyed at the child. He strangled her soon afterwards, wrapped her in a sheet and placed her in the trunk of his car. Miyazaki would then drive back to his apartment with the Nomoto’s body, wait until nightfall then carefully smuggle the girl to his home. For the next 2 days, Miyazaki took photos and video of himself sexually abusing the young girl’s corpse. He only stopped when the smell of decomposition became overwhelming within the small space of his apartment. Miyazaki would decapitate the decomposing body, and sever the hands and feet of the child to hinder identification.

Miyazaki would go on to mutilate the corpse even further. Miyazaki would dump the torso at Hanno's Miyazawa-ko cemetery in the middle of the night. Miyazaki would also hit a new low when he decided to roast some of the remaining body parts and tried eating pieces of the young victim’s hands. Later that day he would dump the hands, feet and severed head in the woods just behind his apartment building. Shortly after dumping these body parts he saw that it was a mistake, dumping them so close to home. He’d go back out and retrieve the remains and stored them in his home.

Like the other cases, police began immediately distributing flyers with the Nomoto’s face on it after her family reported her as missing. Unfortunately a few days later, the girl’s torso would be discovered in the cemetery where it was dumped. A match was quickly made based on descriptions and blood type.

On July 23rd, Miyazaki would again attempt to kidnap a young girl. He approached 2 sisters in a park and convinced one of them to follow him so he could take pictures of her. He soon started to take inappropriate pictures in front of her sister. The sister became scared and ran to fetch their father. The father confronted Miyazaki who was only partially clothed and barefoot. He fled the scene and hid for a few hours. Upon returning to the park some time later he was apprehended and taken into custody. When police searched his home, 1000s of graphic videos were found within, along with media of his victims as well. He would soon be dubbed “The Otaku Killer”.

 Miyazaki in handcuffs.

Miyazaki in handcuffs.

After a few weeks of interrogation, The Otaku Killer would eventually make a full confession. The trial started on March 30th, 1990. During his trial he tried to blame his actions on his alias “Rat Man”. He also tried to blame it on the violence and sexual content found in some of his favorite animes. His defense attorneys failed to convince a judge that he was insane and was sentenced to death. His father felt so much shame over his son’s crimes that he refused to pay for his defense and in 1994 he committed suicide.

Throughout his stay in prison, his defense appealed his sentenced for over a decade. However, the judges who oversaw the case could not overlook the grizzly acts committed by Miyazaki. His death sentence would stand and at the age of 45, an age that exceeded all of his victims combined, Miyazaki would be hung by the neck on June 17th, 2008.