A 70-year-old woman in Japan known as the “black widow” has been sentenced to death after poisoning elderly lovers to death and amassing millions in insurance payouts and inheritance.
A Japanese court sentenced Chisako Kakehi, also nicknamed the “poison lady”, over the murder of three men – including a husband – and the attempted murder of another.
It marks the end of the high-profile “black widow” case – named after the female spider that kills and eats its partner after mating – which has gripped the country.
Ms Kakehi became notorious after using the poison to kill a number of elderly men she was involved with.
“The accused made the victims drink a cyanide compound with a murderous intention in all the four cases,” Judge Ayako Nakagawa told the court, according to public broadcaster NHK.
Judge Nakagawa rejected defence lawyers’ arguments that the defendant was not criminally liable because she was suffering from dementia.
Ms Kakehi killed the men after they made her the beneficiary of life assurance policies that ran into millions of pounds, the court heard.
She reportedly amassed one billion yen (£6.7m) in payouts over 10 years, but subsequently lost most of the fortune through unsuccessful financial trading.
She is said to have had relationships with many men, mostly elderly or ill, meeting some through dating agencies, where she reportedly specified that prospective partners should be wealthy and childless.
The poison, which Ms Kakehi reportedly stashed in a plant pot she later threw out, was found in the body of at least two of the men she was involved with. Police also found traces of cyanide in the rubbish at her Kyoto home, according to reports.
Ms Kakehi initially refused to speak when her trial began in June but later stunned the court by admitting killing her fourth husband in 2013.
“I killed him ... because he gave other women tens of millions of yen but did not give me even a penny,” she told the court, according to Jiji Press.
She had reportedly earlier told judges she was ready to be hanged, saying: “Even if I were executed tomorrow, I would die smiling.”
But her lawyers reportedly plan to appeal to a higher court.
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