‘Black Widow’ Kanae Kijima fooled her victims into thinking she had marriage in mind, not murder…
When a man was found dead inside a rented car, police instantly assumed suicide.
Asphyxiation by car exhaust was a common method in Japan.
Only, there were no keys in the ignition.
The fatal fumes which killed Yoshiyuki Oide, 41, were from a charcoal burner discovered inside the vehicle.
Investigations showed that only 10 hours earlier, in August 2009, Yoshiyuki had written a blog post filled with hope for the future.
He was about to meet the parents of his fiancee, Kanae Kijima, 35, then go on a pre-marriage trip with her before starting their life together.
Far from a suicide note.
An autopsy revealed Yoshiyuki had died of carbon-monoxide poisoning and his body contained the remains of sleeping pills.
Something didn’t add up.
Then, when Kijima’s Tokyo apartment was searched by detectives, on 3 November 2009, they found many medicines, including cold remedies and drugs known to cause drowsiness.
They’d been prescribed by at least 10 different doctors.
Yoshiyuki’s bride-to-be was now his suspected killer.
Worse, as police pieced together the trail Kijima had left, it seemed Yoshiyuki hadn’t been her first victim.
Kijima was romantically linked to another man, Takao Terada, 53, who’d been found dead in Tokyo, in January 2009.
Then, in that May, an elderly gent Kijima had been nursing, Kenzo Ando, 80, had died in a house fire, under mysterious circumstances.
Three months on, Kijima had then turned her ‘loving’ attentions to Yoshiyuki Oide…
In each case, Kijima had been the last person to see them alive, and the cause of death was carbon monoxide poisoning.
It transpired Kijima had met all three men online, aiming to convince them to ask for her hand in marriage.
Then she’d say she needed tuition fees and ask for cash.
In her online blog and dating profiles, Kijima had portrayed herself as an accomplished cook with expensive tastes in clothes and jewellery.
She’d usually pose as a prospective bride, but sometimes played a nurse to make a match, and altered photographs in order to make herself appear more attractive.
Media soon dubbed her the Lonely Hearts Killer.
It’s thought that in just a few years, Kijima allegedly scammed over £1million from potential suitors, including more than thousands from Yoshiyuki alone.
It was all to fund an expensive, luxurious lifestyle of five-star hotels, pricey fashions and a red Mercedes.
Money undoubtedly motivated this conwoman to become a monster…
Born in 1974, in Hokkaido, the granddaughter of a local politician, Kanae Kijima moved to Tokyo at 18 to attend Tokyo University.
But she dropped out after a year without paying her tuition fees.
Perhaps her lust for money began earlier but, in 2003, she was arrested for scamming someone in a Yahoo! auction.
That June, she was sentenced to two years six months in prison, suspended for five years, for defrauding 10 bidders in Japan out of nearly £9,000.
It’s unclear exactly when her fraudulent activities escalated to targeting men for money on dating sites.
But Kijima met each of her three victims online, maintaining relationships with them and receiving gifts.
The prosecution’s evidence was largely circumstantial and, at her trial in March 2012, Kanae Kijima pleaded not guilty.
The prosecution argued she’d deliberately targeted the men for money and then, once they’d demanded their cash back, killed them.
It was claimed that she’d bought coal briquettes and sleeping pills, prepared stoves, and then stayed with each of the drugged victims until the moment before death.
Meanwhile, the defence argued the victims could have committed suicide or died by accident.
‘The evidence presented by the prosecutors does not sufficiently prove the defendant murdered the three men,’ one defence lawyer said.
The case captured the imagination of the Japanese public, with more than 1,000 people queuing for one of 50 seats inside court.
Three men were dead, with a link to falling for Kanae Kijima in common.
Was it merely coincidence? Was Kanae simply unlucky in love?
The trial judges weren’t convinced.
At Saitama District Court on 13 April 2012, Kanae Kijima was found guilty of three counts of murder and sentenced to death by hanging.
The presiding judge, Kazuyuki Okuma, said, ‘There is no room for leniency because the defendant committed the crimes for selfish purposes. She repeated irrational excuses in court and did not show any remorse.’
Still maintaining her innocence, Kijima appealed the conviction.
But she didn’t let the prospect of death put her off marriage…
From behind bars in Saitama Prefecture, she married a Tokyo real-estate businessman in his 60s. According to reports, he was unfazed by her deadly deeds.
The romance started in 2013 via a letter from the unidentified man, who popped the question in February 2015.
Kijima has subsequently changed her surname to Doi while on Death Row.
Her final appeal was rejected by the Supreme Court in March 2014, which upheld the death sentence.
Later that week, Kanae Kijima, 42, wrote in her blog, I hope to see you again somewhere someday.
It could take many years before she herself meets the executioner.
Men everywhere, beware…