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This is the beginning of the game... You police guys [sic] stop me if you can... I desperately want to see people die, it is a thrill for me to commit murder. A bloody judgment is needed for my years of great bitterness.
Azuma

Shinichiro Azuma, a.k.a. Seito Sakakibara, The Kobe School Killer, Onibara, and Boy A, is a Japanese killer who used the symbol of The Zodiac Killer as his signature. For years, his real name remained hidden due to the serious nature of his crimes and the fact that he was a minor when he committed them (only 14 years old).

History

Not much about Azuma's life prior to the murders has been disclosed, other than he committed many acts of animal cruelty by age 12 and also began bringing cutting weapons to school, commenting that carrying them around helps "ease his irritation". Starting sometime on February, Azuma assaulted three schoolgirls within a two-month span. On March 16, he escalated to murder, killing 10-year-old Ayaka Yamashita. Two months later, on May 24, he abducted a special-education student, 11-year-old Jun Hase, and murdered him, decapitating and mutilating him using a hand saw. He then impaled Hase's head, along with a letter for the authorities, on the school's front gate. It was found three days later by a school janitor. When local police read the letter, they found that Azuma left a signature at the end of the letter, a cross-like symbol reminiscent of the one utilized by the infamous Zodiac Killer; the killer also accused Japan's education system of being oppressive. A more detailed examination of the victim's head revealed traces of semen.

On June 6, Azuma sent another letter to the police, in which he confessed to murdering Jun Hase, threatened that there would be more murders to follow, and naming himself as "Sakakibara Seito". There was a local media panic, and as a result, his name was misreported as "Onibara". Enraged, Azuma sent yet another letter declaring that he will kill three "vegetables" per week should there be another misconception of the name. On June 28, police were able to apprehend him as a suspect for Jun Hase's murder; he also confessed to the murder of Ayaka Yamashita and the assaults of the three other schoolgirls. Exactly how police were able to pin Jun Hase's murder on Azuma remains unknown. He was then charged for his crimes and sent to juvenile detention. On March 11, 2004, it was announced that Azuma, now aged 21, was released on a provisional basis, then will be fully released on January 1 of the following year. The announcement was met with criticism, with many stating that due to the unusually sudden revelation, he shouldn't be released and should be sent to prison instead. The release went on exactly as planned, however.

Three years after Azuma's arrest and conviction, the Diet of Japan lowered the legal age of criminal responsibility from 16 years old to 14 years old, the age he was when he committed his crimes. Following the June 1, 2004 murder of Satomi Mitarai, which was committed by an 11-year-old girl whose name was revealed only as "Girl A", discussions for further revision to the law have been initiated. There has also been a number of people who have stated that Azuma was wrongfully accused. Among them were Shōjirō Gotō, a lawyer specializing in false-accusation cases; Hidehiko Kumagai; and Nobuyoshi Iwata, Seito's former principal.

Modus Operandi

During Ayaka Yamashita's murder, Azuma bludgeoned her to death with a steel pipe. When he killed Jun Hase, he strangled him to death and used a handsaw to decapitate and mutilate him. He then left a note in his mouth and left his head outside Tainohata Elementary School.

Known Victims

  • 1997:
    • February 10: Two unnamed girls (both bludgeoned with a hammer; survived)
    • March 16:
      • Ayaka Yamashita, 10 (bludgeoned with a steel pipe; survived, but died on March 23)
      • Kasumi Ishikawa, 9 (stabbed in the abdomen; survived)
    • May 24: Jun Hase, 11 (fatally strangled, decapitated, and mutilated post-mortem with a hand-saw; left a note in his mouth)

On Criminal Minds

Sources

References

  1. Japanese for "Apostle Sake Devil Rose"
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