In Brief

Japan’s ‘black widow’ sentenced to death over poisonings

Chisako Kakehi say she will ‘die smiling’ if executed for killing elderly lovers

Japan’s “black widow” serial killer was today sentenced to death by hanging for killing her husband and two common-law partners.

Like the venomous spider that kills its mate after copulation, 70-year-old Chisako Kakehi formed relationships with elderly men and then tricked them into drinking cyanide to collect the insurance money, reports Kyodo News

Kakehi was convicted of the murders of her 75-year-old husband and two common-law partners, as well as the attempted murder of a fourth man, between 2007 to 2013, The Japan Times says. 

She registered with a matchmaking service to find wealthy men - she married or was associated with more than ten - and inherited more than £6m, but fell into debt, the newspaper reports. Kakehi passed off the cyanide as a health drink, the court heard. Officials found traces of cyanide in the rubbish at her Kyoto home, along with paraphernalia for administering drugs. 

Judge Ayako Nakagawa called it “a heinous crime driven by greed for money”. He rejected defence arguments that Kakehi suffered from dementia and was not criminally liable, noting that she did not have dementia when she committed the murders.

Kakehi initially refused to speak, but later stunned a court by admitting killing her fourth husband, who died about a month after they wed in 2013, according to the Channel NewsAsia website. 

“Even if I were executed tomorrow, I would die smiling,” Kakehi reportedly told judges.

Her lawyers plan to appeal, “suggesting the high-profile trial could yet drag on”, the website adds.

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