Police in Kyoto, Japan, arrested a woman Wednesday on suspicion of poisoning her husband and it may turn out that this wealthy 67-year-old is another ‘black widow,’ who has dispatched up to six previous partners, getting rich from insurance money and other assets passed on to her by the deceased men. Although nothing has been proven at this time, Chisako Kakehi is now being held for further questioning as the case unfolds.
Chisako and Isao Kakehi, 75, were married last year but, just a month later, in December, Isao fell ill at the couple’s home in the city of Muko, south of Kyoto. He was rushed to hospital where he died. An autopsy examination discovered a lethal amount of cyanide in his blood. Shortly before she married Isao, Chisako lost another partner; In September, her boyfriend died from an unspecified illness after the couple dined together at a restaurant. He was 75 years old.
Chisako Kakehi, who denies murder, has been married a total of four times since 1994. All four husbands died within a short time of marrying her. Since 1994, Kakehi has also lost two boyfriends and one fiance. Her first husband died in 1994; he was 54 years old at the time. In 2006, she lost her second husband: He was 69 and apparently died of a stroke. Her third husband died in 2008, at the age of 75.
Earlier this year, Kakehi was interviewed by Japan’s Jiji Press and said that she was “doomed by fate” to lose each of her partners. In 2009, a man she had been dating passed away and another man, to whom she was engaged, collapsed and died in March 2012. In this case, the autopsy detected cyanide in the man’s bloodstream.
Police are now trying to determine if Kakehi is responsible for poisoning her husband and whether or not that can link her to the deaths of any of the other men. Given that they were all of an advanced age, a police investigator has admitted that proving anything may not be easy. The boyfriend who died in 2009 is believed to have been suffering from some form of cancer. Although Isao had cyanide in his blood, it is not clear how the poison had been ingested. Chisako Kakehi denies any knowledge of cyanide and there are no clues as to how she would have gained access to it. The investigator, from the Kyoto police, told reporters that there may be a motive, however; Kakehi is said to have acquired a 800 million yen fortune in money and assets from her deceased husbands and partners. That amount translates to around $6.8 million.
The “black widow” moniker would not be unique to Chisako Kakehi; there are currently two other women in prison in Japan, waiting to discover their fates. Kanae Kijima was arrested in 2012 and charged with murdering three men whom she had dated. Earlier this year, she was sentenced to death by hanging but is currently awaiting the result of an appeal. 40-year-old former hostess Miyuki Ueta had also appealed a death sentence in the murders of two men. In March, her sentence was upheld.
If police are able to connect Chisako Kakehi to the deaths of some – or all – of the seven partners she has outlived, it may be Japan’s latest ‘black widow’ serial killing.
Graham J Noble