TOKYO - Around 400 Japanese police were hunting a 63-year-old resident of a tiny mountain community Tuesday after five people were found apparently bludgeoned to death - one of them alongside a mysterious note.
Police found three of the bodies on Sunday after two houses in Shunan, a 15-person hamlet in western Yamaguchi prefecture, burned to the ground. Two more bodies were found in a neighboring home on Monday.
Japanese newspaper Kyodo said all of the victims were aged in their 70s and 80s. All of the victims showed signs of having been hit in the back of the head with a blunt instrument, police said.
The police found a note on the window of one of the victim's houses that read: "Lighting fire, happiness from the smoke, a country man."
Some reports said the note was a traditional Japanese haiku poem, but the message does not conform exactly to that type of poetry's style.
The 63-year-old was a person of interest, not necessarily the subject, police said. In 2011, the same man made an unspecified complaint to the police.
First published July 23 2013, 6:47 AM