A serial killer who preyed upon members of an online suicide club, suffocating them to death in order to gratify himself sexually, has been executed by hanging.
Hiroshi Maeue, 40, apparently could only achieve sexual satisfaction by the act of strangulation; he was arrested a number of times over several years for non-fatally asphyxiating five people, both male and female, for which he served several years in prison.
Upon release in 2005, he began using an online suicide club to befriend various people, offering to commit suicide with them.
In order to lessen the chances of being caught, he persuaded victims to write wills and letters to family stating their intent. Finally, he would lure each to a suitably remote location, where he promised to kill himself with them using the popular method of lighting a charcoal burner in a sealed car.
However, once he had lured them to the scene, he instead bound their arms and legs, and began to asphyxiate them. In order to maximise their suffering and his own demented pleasures, he would suffocate them into unconsciousness and then allow them to come to so he could repeat the process, actually reviving them where necessary using resuscitation techniques.
Once his depraved lusts were satisfied and the victim dead, he buried the bodies nearby.
He also made various recordings of the events for his later enjoyment, which were later recovered by police.
In this manner he killed a 25-year-old woman, a 14-year-old schoolboy and a 21-year-old male university student, all in the course of four months.
In the case of the schoolboy, he varied his modus operandi and attempted to trick the boy’s parents into paying a ransom for their kidnapped son, using the boy’s phone to contact them after he had been murdered. He was unsuccessful.
Courts had no difficulty in convicting him, branding him a “lust murderer,” and soon a death sentence was passed down.
The execution has attracted attention for its unusual speed, with such sentences at times taking decades and being subjected to numerous appeals; in Japan they must be personally authorised by the responsible cabinet minister, and there is often personal or political reluctance to sign the execution warrants.
In this case, matters may have been speeded along by the refusal of the condemned to appeal, and his statements to the effect that he was willing to atone for his crimes with his life.
Online suicide clubs are one of the few ways the cowardly wretches intent on ending their lives manage to muster enough courage to actually carry out their wishes, and serve as a venue for mutual encouragement, information exchange and the planning of actual group suicides, relatively common in Japan.
Clearly, they also serve to attract even more unwholesome types looking to help out, but not necessarily die in the process…