The 13th Floor

The Gruesome Unsolved Crimes of “The Chess Killer”

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The following case was compiled and uploaded in 2013 by user Rookurou, who cites a series of graphic and disturbing police reports from the city of Chichibu in the Japanese prefecture of Saitama in 1986. Over three decades later, the case remains unsolved, and the once-classified files were recently leaked online by an unnamed source.

The suspect, whom the media and citizens of Chichibu dubbed Chesu at Kira — “The Chess Killer” — is believed to be responsible for multiple kidnappings and at least five murders in the area.

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The first body, that of 22-year-old Kiyoko Tsuki, was discovered in a wooded park area on Saturday, June 14, 1986 by two children, whose parents notified the police. The young woman’s corpse had been grotesquely twisted so that the arms and legs were crossed into “X” shapes, and one hand was clutching a black rook chess piece. The coroner ruled the cause of death to be asphyxiation.

Earlier that same day, police had been notified of a kidnapping incident, in which two women around 20 years of age were reportedly held hostage by a masked man. One of the women, whose name was not given, later told police she had been drugged by a masked man while leaving her workplace at 10 pm.

She claimed to have been held in an undisclosed location while her abductor asked her and another woman — who turned out to be the aforementioned victim Kiyoko Tsuki — a series of unusual questions. She later awakened in the same wooded area, with a white rook chess piece in her hand.

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The second body, 38-year-old Ryotaro Satoru, was found by a group of his co-workers from the Nitchitsu Mines on June 18, 1986. His limbs had been crossed in the same manner, with a chess piece gripped in his hand… only this time it was a black pawn. His death was determined to have been caused by drowning.

Other details of this incident are nearly identical to those involving Kiyoko Tsuki, including a second kidnap victim — in this case, one of Satoru’s fellow miners — who had been held at gunpoint, drugged and taken to an unknown site along with Satoru at approximately 11 pm, where both men were asked a series of unusual questions by their masked captor.

The other miner (whose name is not given, though he is described as a younger man) also claimed to have awakened in the same wooded region clutching a chess piece — this time, a white pawn. When he reported the incident to the police, he recalled the masked man’s questions: his age, his marital status, whether he had a wife and kids (and if he truly loved them), if he believed in God, and if he was happy. The kidnapper also asked him questions about his childhood and his plans for the future.

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The third body, that of 27-year-old Takao Susumu, was discovered inside the Nitchitsu Mines (the same site previous victim Ryotaro Satoru once worked) on June 22, 1986. Oddly enough, Susumu was not a mine worker, but a security guard in nearby Chichibu.

Although his corpse was found in the same cross-limbed state and holding a chess piece — the black knight — other details in Susumu’s murder differ from the previous victims, in that he was found completely naked, and there is no report of a connected double-kidnapping incident. His death was attributed to hypothermia.

A bulletin dated June 26, 1986 follows these case files, and describes another similar kidnapping: 26-year-old Nayami Fumiko was abducted from the woods of Chichibu on her way home from work two days prior. The perpetrator is again described as a masked man, this time brandishing a knife, who then drugged Fumiko and took her to an unknown location.

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Fumiko told police she awakened in darkness, blindfolded, and tied to a chair. She heard a man asking her the same strange series of questions reported in the previous cases before drugging her a second time, after which she regained consciousness near her workplace. When she awakened, she discovered a small chain around her neck… from which was suspended a white knight chess piece. Like the case of Takao Susumu, no second kidnap victim was found.

On the morning of June 30, 1986, a pair of bodies were discovered near a highway which passes through Chichibu, later identified as Hanako Junko, 23, and Mayumi Yuri, 30. Their corpses were laid out in a specific manner, so that each victim’s arms were spread wide and Junko’s legs were crossed over those of Yuri. Junko was found clutching a black bishop chess piece in her left hand, whereas Yuri was holding a black queen. The cause of death in both cases was ruled as asphyxiation — similar to the first discovered victim, Kiyoko Tsuki.

The files indicated that police had become extremely distressed attempting to connect the identical or similar factors of each case, and had uncovered no clues or witnesses whatsoever… until they received a call the same day from a woman who reported her daughter had been kidnapped from the front porch by a man wearing a mask, who carried the screaming girl to a nearby car.

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The girl was found later the same afternoon near the Ogurasawa School, unconscious but otherwise unharmed, inside what police believe to be the perpetrator’s vehicle, though it bore no license plate, and the vehicle ID did not trace to any owner. The report notes that the girl was wearing a bracelet on her left wrist when she was found — on which hung a small white bishop piece. In the palm of her right hand was a white queen.

The final report, dated July 4, 1986, detailed the discovery of an unconscious young man at a gas station near the Nitchitsu Mines. After awakening in the hospital, he was interviewed by police; he claimed to have been riding his bicycle home from a party the previous evening when he came across a man in black staggering across the road. When the younger man attempted to help, he was shocked to discover the stranger was wearing a strange white mask.

The man in black reportedly seized and drugged the younger man, who (like Nayami Fumiko before him) awakened in a dark room, tied to a chair, whereupon the abductor asked him the same odd questions as the others.

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One bizarre detail sets this particular case apart, however: when the young man awakened in the hospital, doctors had removed an object lodged inside his neck: a small chess piece — the white king. Upon discovering this piece of evidence, police escalated their efforts; they presumed there was a black king out there somewhere… and it was likely planted on or within another victim’s corpse.

Despite detectives’ best efforts, however, the black king was never found — and no evidence of a second kidnapping and/or murder surfaced.

For the next year, authorities labored to find further clues, witnesses or reports of similar incidents, but turned up absolutely nothing… and on August 12, 1987, the case was closed until further notice.

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Copycat crimes, dozens of false alarms and a collection of urban myths sprang up in Chichibu and the surrounding regions, during and after the bizarre crime spree. Since 1986, the name Chesu at Kira has become a source of nightmarish legend… and a boogeyman to scare children from straying too far into the woods.

But the real Chess Killer has never been caught.