Japan Today

Saturday, June 1, 2002

For every husband: five rules to avoid being killed by wives

Japan Today

In Fukuoka Prefecture, four nurses were arrested last month for murdering the husband of one of them in an insurance scam that netted them 30 million yen.

The nurses were all alumni from the same nurses' training school. And if their cozy relationship had not ended in bickering, the case would never have come to light.

One of the suspects, Hitomi Ishii (43), whose husband was the victim, became the key to unraveling the mystery. Last August, Ishii turned herself in at Kurume police station in Fukuoka, claiming she was being threatened by three women who were demanding money.

Police questioned her several times before Ishii finally told the truth about her husband's murder. Apparently, the other three, who had put Ishii up to killing her husband, had been unhappy with their share of the insurance payoff and had threatened Ishii.

According to Ishii's statement, she called her husband Tsuyoshi Kumon, from whom she was separated and told him there was a problem with the children. When he came over, she gave him curry and rice laced with a hypnotic sedative. After he fell asleep, she inserted tubes into both his mouth and nose and then poured in about 700 ml of whiskey. Furthermore, she injected about four liters of water into his veins. As a result, Kumon suffered a breathing disorder and died shortly after.

Because the cause of death was a kind of pneumonia, there were no suspicions at first. Thus, Ishii received about 30 million yen as insurance money.

Following Ishii's arrest, her three friends — Junko Yoshida (42), Kazuko Ikegami (41) and Miyuki Tsutsumi (42) were arrested one after another as accomplices.

A police spokesman said: "The principal offender of the group is Yoshida. She has already admitted that she came up with the murder plot."

In addition to the Ishii murder, two other murder cases are being investigated as having been the brainchild of Yoshida. One is the sudden death of Ikegami's 39-year-old husband, which occurred on Jan 24, 1998. At the time of his death, an inquest turned up no signs of foul play and death was attributed to acute cardiac failure. However, Ishii has told police that Ikegami's husband was killed in virtually the same way as her husband.

According to an acquuaintance who was at the funeral of Ikegami's husband, both Ikegami and Yoshida behaved strangely. "Ikegami never shed a tear and she never told anyone, not even her relatives, that her husband had been insured for 30 million yen."

"Yoshida came to the funeral and lorded it over everyone. She took charge of the monetary offerings of attendants," said one of Ikegami's inlaws.

Another suspicious case occurred on May 29, 2000, when Tsutsumi's mother was attacked. A middle-aged woman, believed to be Ikegami, visited the woman and introduced herself as a private detective. She told the elderly woman that she was investigating whether her daughter was having a secret affair. According to police, the "detective" suddenly pushed the old woman down and tried to inject syringes into her neck and arms but Tsutsumi's mother fought her off and she fled.

A police spokesperson said there was evidence of Yoshida's involvement in the assault and that she also had urged Tsutsumi to take out a life insurance policy on her mother.

Police say that until the fallout over Ishii's death, the four women were close to each other. They even bought apartments in the same building. Even there, Yoshida took the lead; she bought a 30 million yen apartment, while the apartments of the others were much cheaper.

Insurance investigators say there are a few lessons husbands can learn from the unholy foursome.

1. Don't buy high-priced insurance packages. Hiromi Ikeuchi, who works at an institute in Tokyo that deals with domestic problems, said, "Wives usually worry about what will happen to them financially after their husbands are gone. If killing husbands solved this problem, some wives actually do it. Some wives have actually come to see me to consult on such a thing."

2. Don't get into debt. "If you owe money, it's better to be jointly in debt with your spouse," said Ikeuchi.

3. Take note if your wife suddenly starts using different or more seasonings. According to Ikeuchi, one housewife actually told her that she had started giving her husband extra salt and soy source in the hope that it would make him ill and eventually kill him.

4. Pay special attention to curry. "The spicy flavor hides the strong odor of most poisons," explained Keiichi Tsuneishi, a biochemical professor at Kanagawa university.

5. Don't neglect having sex with your wife. "No matter how old he is, a husband should pay attention to his wife's sexual needs," advised Ikeuchi. "He also needs to listen to his wife and talk with her if she has any complaints."

May 15, 2002
Volume 34 Number 20