Serial killer nailed in the nick of time

SAGA -- A man suspected of killing 3 women was charged with the murder of one of his victims just six hours before the statute of limitations on the case was to expire, it was learned Monday.

Teruhiko Matsue is currently serving a sentence for attempted robbery and is accused of strangling Sumiko Fujise in Kitagata, Saga Prefecture, in July 1987. The 39-year-old has already been indicted for slaying his girlfriend, Tatsuyo Yoshino, in January 1989, and is also linked to the 1988 death of Kiyomi Nakajima.

He has denied the allegations.

The Saga District Prosecutors Office indicted Matsue for the Fujise murder at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, just 6 hours, 20 minutes before the statute of limitations was to expire at midnight.

"There were so many questions we had to find answers for," Saga prosecution spokesman Kazuo Sakakibara said in explaining the reason it took so long to charge the suspect. Sakakibara remained confident of nailing Matsue despite the lack of hard evidence linking him to the murders. "Investigators have been gathering evidence for the past 13 years and we believe we now have enough material to indict him."

On the night of July 8, 1987, Matsue allegedly took 48-year-old Fujise for a drive and fatally choked her in his car on a Kitagata road. He then dumped her body in the local mountains. Fujise's body was found alongside the corpses of Nakajima and Yoshino in January 1989.

Matsue, who lived some 400 meters away from the location where the bodies were found, submitted a deposition saying that he slew the three women after he was arrested on narcotics charges in October that year. However, he was not charged with the murders after he claimed that his police interrogators forced him into writing the deposition and investigators failed to discover any material evidence.

With the statute of limitations on the Fujise case looming, police, who have been studying Matsue's deposition and available evidence, concluded that the 39-year-old prisoner is responsible for the triple murder and served him arrest warrants last month.

Before charging Matsue over the Fujise murder, prosecutors indicted him for killing 37-year-old Yoshino on July 2. Saga police are also expected to arrest Matsue with the slaying of Nakajima, a 50-year-old housewife, shortly. (Mainichi Shimbun, July 8, 2002)
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