On the morning of August 5, 2009, Yoshiyuki Oide logged onto his blog. He posted some photos of a model tank he was working on as well as some cookies he recently got in Tokyo's geek district, Akihabara.
"To tell the truth, I'm getting married, and today, I'm going to meet her family," Oide blogged. "For the next three days and two nights, I'm going on a pre-marital trip." On August 6, Yoshiyuki Oide was dead.
According to The Tokyo Reporter, Oide was discovered in a rented car in Saitama Prefecture with a charcoal burner, which is a common suicide tool in Asia. An autopsy turned up sleeping pills in Oide's system. Oddly, the day before his murder, Oide transferred the equivalent of US$60,000 to his bride's account. His bride-to-be, Kanae Kijima, was nowhere to be seen.
The media has dubbed the 37-year-old Kanae Kijima a "black widow" killer. She met her lonely victims online via matchmaking sites. According to website Mutant Travel Frog, once she got engaged to the men, Kijima would start demanding tens of thousands of dollars. Her blog depicted a high-flying lifestyle: fancy restaurants, brand name clothes, and a wine red Mercedes Benz. Her grifter—and serial killer—work apparently funded it.
Kijima wasn't noted for her good looks. To fool her victims online, she would either alter her pics or use camera tricks so she looked better—or, she'd simply show close ups of her mouth or hair. When she would finally meet her victims, they were often disappointed. Kijima, however, was more than eager to please.
"Sometimes she was wearing a black one-piece dress with an open front to display cleavage," a neighbor told the Shukan Post (via Tokyo Reporter) in 2009. "But usually she didn't wear make-up and sported worn-out jeans and t-shirts. To be honest, it is hard to believe that kind of lady was able to deceive men."
During her spree, she apparently conned around 20 men out of money. She didn't kill all her marks, but was linked to the death of six men—all died under similar circumstances. As Mutant Travel Frog pointed out, Kijima probably scammed around US$300,000 annually when she started her spree in 2006. Fraud wasn't a new thing for Kijima; after she dropped out of university, she was arrested for running an online auction scam.
Late last week, a Japanese court and jury handed down the death sentence to Kijima. She was found guilty in the murder of three of her lovers: 53 year-old Takao Terada, 80 year-old Kenzo Ando, 41 year-old Yoshiyuki Oide. All three men were killed between January and August 2009 in apparent suicides. "The defendant received huge amounts of money from the victims in order to maintain her luxurious lifestyle without working, and killed them in order to avoid repaying the money," said Presiding Judge Kazuyuki Okuma.
Kijima met her victims online. They were lonely middle aged or elderly men, eager to find a wife and get married. They were shy and geeky and withdrawn. It was through the internet that she ensnared them, using dating sites and her own blog to pull them in. But it was also the internet that helped pin the crimes on her—whether that was Oide's blogged account of the day before his murder or Kijima's decision to use her real name online. More horrifying is how her blog became a record of all the things she bought with men she deceived. Or killed.