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The Unsolved Setagaya Family Murder Case, 22 Years On

The Unsolved Setagaya Family Murder Case, 22 Years On

A shocking crime known as the Setagaya family murder case, named after a district in Tokyo where a couple and their two young children were brutally killed.

The Unsolved Setagaya Family Murder Case, 22 Years On

Around 11:00 PM on December 30, 2000, 44-year-old Mikio Miyazawa, his 41-year-old wife Yasuko, their 8-year-old daughter Niina, and their 6-year-old son Rei were brutally killed by an unknown intruder who had entered their home.

The Unsolved Setagaya Family Murder Case, 22 Years On
The Miyazawa’s house is on the right, while Yasuko’s family lived in the adjacent house.

The murder was gruesome. As the assailant stabbed Mikio, his knife broke, with part of the blade lodging in Mikio’s head. The killer then used one of the kitchen knives from the house to murder Yasuko and Niina. Yasuko was killed in such a violent manner that her bones were visible.

Yasuko’s mother, who lived next door, discovered their bodies on the morning of New Year’s Eve. She unlocked the front door of the house, and there lay her son-in-law, Mikio, sprawled at the foot of the stairs, covered in blood from multiple stab wounds. She continued upstairs and found her daughter covering her deceased granddaughter.

The police believe the killer entered the house through the second-floor bathroom and likely exited the same way. The window was open, and the screen had been removed. Rei slept in the adjacent room, which is one reason why the police suspect he was strangled instead of stabbed like the others.

Rei’s body lay on a bunk bed in the room, unlike the others. Rei was strangled by the assailant. Yasuko was a tutor, and Mikio worked for a British marketing company. Their daughter Niina was in the second grade, and Rei was a kindergarten child.

The Strange Behavior of the Killer

One of the most bizarre aspects of this case is the killer’s behavior after committing the crime. The Tokyo Metropolitan Police believe the killer arrived at the house around 11:00 PM and stayed there until dawn.

After the murders, he went to the kitchen and consumed four tubs of ice cream and drank several bottles of barley tea he found there. He used the computer to browse the internet, and some reports even suggest he may have taken a nap on the couch. He also ransacked the house and threw some of his belongings and papers into the bathtub.

The Unsolved Setagaya Family Murder Case, 22 Years On
Part of a pamphlet showing how the killer likely dressed when he arrived at the family’s house and the type of clothing he discarded there. The police were able to determine the brand and style of running shoes the killer wore based on his footprints at the crime scene.

The police believe he is likely not Japanese based on several factors: DNA indicates his heritage is Asian through his father and European through his mother, with a marker much more common in Koreans and Chinese than in Japanese.

The shoe size of the brand he wore was not sold in Japan. Investigators found no matches for his fingerprints in any Japanese driver’s licenses, passports, or other government documents. It is believed that the grains of sand found in his fanny pack originated in the southwestern United States.

Evidence abounds in the Setagaya family murder case; the killer left his feces in the house’s toilet, there are fingerprints, footprints, and bloodstains.

The police also found an open first aid kit and sanitary pads soaked in the killer’s blood. It is believed he used them to treat his own wounds.

Despite an overwhelming amount of evidence, no one has been arrested, and the Setagaya family murder case remains unsolved 22 years on, with no established motive for such a crime.”


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