Written By: JASR
Edited By: Grave Reviews Staff
Chisako Kakehi, also known as the “Black Widow,” killed her lovers using health capsules spiked with cyanide.
Kakehi was romantically linked with around 7 to 14 men, including her first husband. She continued killing for two decades until her arrest in November 2014.
She was dubbed as the “Black Widow,” which is in reference to the spider that kills its mate after copulation.
Chisako Kakehi, born Chisako Yamamoto, was born on November 28, 1946. She grew up in a middle-class family in Kitakyushu City, Fukuoka. While Kakehi had good grades in school, her dream of going to university was ruined by her father, who believed girls should not pursue higher education.
She was a bank teller from 1965 to 1969. She married her first husband in 1969 and had two children. Kakehi was introduced to cyanide as her husband became a successful entrepreneur with a fabric-printing company, which uses cyanide in commercial printing.
Marriage with a Plan
Kakehi adopted the surnames of her four husbands and other common-law partners so she could open several bank accounts. She reportedly pocketed at least 1 billion yen in insurance and inheritance payouts. However, it was squandered away due to poor financial planning.
She signed up with at least 10 matchmaking agencies and specified that her potential spouse must be childless, elderly, and ideally, wealthy.
When meeting the men, she would use her charm in making them fall for her. Kakehi eventually became the beneficiary of their assets.
Kakehi’s first husband died in 1994 at 54 years old. His firm collapsed in 2003.
She married a Gunma native a year later. He died of a stroke in 2006 at 69 years old.
She then married Mr. Toshiaki Yamamoto, 75, in 2008. He died of a heart attack three months later.
Suspicions about what caused these deaths started to grow, but these bodies’ cremations make it impossible to prove the suspicions.
Kakehi was charged with three counts of murder after the police investigated other cases.
She also faced a charge of attempted murder of Mr. Toshiaki Suehiro, whom she was engaged to in 2007. After collapsing in the middle of a busy street, Suehiro was put on life support until 2009. He later died of cancer. Traces of cyanide were found in a sample of his blood.
Two years after Suehiro’s death, Kakehi got engaged to Mr. Masanori Honda, who was 71 years old. He died of arrhythmia, or an abnormal heart rate, six months later.
Kakehi was also involved with retired architect Minoru Hioki, 75, who died of suspected lung cancer.
She married Ikao Kakehi weeks later.
Loving Wife or Selfish Murderer?
Kakehi’s fourth husband, Isao Kakehi, died on December 28, 2013. Just like any partner, Kakehi was devastated when the police interviewed her.
Mr. Kakehi died at 75 years old – making police quite prepared to close the case as a natural death. However, a watchful detective started to suspect Kakehi.
An autopsy on Mr. Kakehi found traces of cyanide in his blood. In November 2014, police went to Kakehi’s homes in Kyoto and Osaka and confiscated capsules and wafers used to wrap powdered medicine. There were also books about drugs.
Media reports linked the deaths of Kakehi’s partners to insurance payouts. Kakehi initially denied the accusations and said she was just “doomed by fate.”
Kakehi has been sentenced to death by hanging.
“The accused made the victims drink a cyanide compound with a murderous intention in all the four cases,” said Judge Ayako Nakagawa, as reported by public broadcaster NHK.
She first refused to speak when her trial started in June 2017, but she later admitted to killing her fourth husband in 2013. Kakehi claimed that her fourth husband gave other women tens of millions of yen while she received nothing.
After Kakehi admitted to the murder in 2013, she seemed to mock the threat of a death sentence by saying, “I killed my husband. I have no intention of hiding the guilt. I will laugh it off and die if I am sentenced to death tomorrow.”
Kekahi retracted her confession days later, saying she had no memory of such. According to her lawyers, she has dementia – arguing that she was not criminally liable. However, Nakagawa said the killer was fully aware of what she did.
Since Japan has one of the world’s lowest homicide rates, Kakehi’s killings became a large scandal.
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