Kiyotaka Katsuta: Firefighter by Day, Killer by Night
Written By: YN
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
(August 29, 1948 – November 30, 2000)
Dubbed as the “most maliciously evil criminal in Japanese history”, Kiyotaka Katsuta was notorious for killing and robbing his victims–the number of which remains currently undetermined up until today despite his confession to 22 murders. The news of his arrest had shocked the country since he was a firefighter which was an antithesis of his terrible deeds. He was hanged on November 30, 2000.
Life Before The Crimes
According to numerous studies, an almost common situation in any serial killer’s childhood is the absence of parental guidance and care. Kiyotaka Katsuta was no exception to this condition. He was born in August 29, 1948 in Kizugawa, a city in Kyoto, Japan, to a middle-class couple. With both parents busy with work, he was often left to tend to his own needs and find companionship elsewhere while he was growing up. It was also said that his relationship with his father was wobbly at best due to his father’s abusive tendencies.
In his early years, there was nothing remarkable about Katsuta’s life. There were no tales from the neighbors of strange behaviors as a child. And although Katsuta was highly neglected at home, he still managed to make friends with children his age.
Upon reaching adulthood, Katsuta left Kizogawa and moved to Nagoya where he began work as a firefighter. His relationship with his parents were nonexistent ever since his departure, and he lived alone for many years. In the end, he never married or had children of his own.
The Taste of Thrill and Violence
His first crime was said to have occurred sometime in 1972 when he strangled a bar hostess to death and robbed her afterwards. Police suspected rape, but there was never any evidence to support their suspicion. Katsuta got away with the act, allowing him to kill four (or more) other bar hostesses in the years to come.
After having that first taste of violence, Katsuta went on committing similar crimes for almost 10 years. His usual method was strangulation, and almost always, he stole valuables from his victims. Most of which were bar hostesses. However, none of his crimes were ever linked to him during those years, permitting him to live on normally and anonymously as a firefighter in Nagoya. In fact, authorities continued to scratch their heads on the specific number of murders he had committed even after his arrest and death.
It was only in October 27, 1982 that Katsuta drew attention to himself after running a police officer over with a car and stealing the latter’s handgun. At that time, guns were difficult to come by in Japan and only authorized policemen could wield the weapon. This marked the start of his 2-year killing spree where he changed up his method and put his newly acquired gun to use.
Despite his run-in with the police, Katsuta still managed to evade capture and continue with his robberies and murder. Two more crimes were linked to him this time. There were two drivers whom he robbed and shot. The first died after the incident, while the second survived and became a vital key to Katsuta’s arrest. His last case was famously known as Metropolitan Designated Case 113.
Katsuta was finally arrested on January 31, 1983 after a robbery gone wrong. He was charged with 7 murders–6 of them were bar hostesses and 1 was a driver. Later on, however, he confessed to having killed around 22 others, but this was never confirmed. Police also suspected him of rape, but there was no evidence to support their claims.
He made no effort to interact with his fellow inmates during his time in prison. In fact, he claimed that he didn’t trust anyone there. Isolated and alienated from everyone else, Katsuta had attempted suicide while serving time. Reports mentioned that his guilt had finally caught up with him by then.
Some time in prison, he met a Christian woman who later wrote a biography of him under the pen name Yuko Kurusu. This same woman later on became his adoptive sister after he got officially adopted by her family. He changed his name into Kiyotaka Fujiwara in honor of his new family.
In January 17, 1994, he was finally convicted for his crimes and was given 2 death sentences for the murders of 6 bar hostesses and 1 driver. His death came on November 30, 2000 in the form of hanging. To this day, Japan remembers his heinous crimes, but little is known of him beyond his crimes.