‘Black widow’ murdered three of her lovers – plant pot cover up and dementia excuse

When a 67-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of murdering her husband, it shocked the local community.

Isao Kakehi, 75, was found dead just one month after marrying his wife, Chisako. An autopsy revealed his body contained levels of cyanide that far exceeded a lethal dose.

He met Chisako, from in Muko, Japan, through a matchmaking service three months before his death on 28th December, 2013.

But after Chisako was arrested over her husband’s death, disturbing new details emerged about the fates of her ex-lovers – two of whom died and one who fell seriously ill after she became romantically involved with them.

Chisako Kakehi initially denied murdering her husband with cyanide


AFP/Getty Images)

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Chisako denied murdering her husband, and claimed she didn’t even know what cyanide was. But as police started to dig into her past, her story began to unravel.

Autopsy and suspicion

After Isao died, an autopsy revealed lethal amounts of cyanide in his blood, stomach and heart.

When police searched his home, they found empty capsules and health supplements. The evidence suggested Chisako had emptied the health supplements and refilled them with cyanide.

Then, eight months after his death in August 2014, cops found a houseplant that Chisako had thrown away. Buried in the soil was a little bag that contained traces of cyanide.

Police managed to link the plastic bag with those used at her place of work. In October 2014, they had enough evidence to arrest her. But it wasn’t long before cops suspected her of foul play in the murders of her ex lovers.

After months of interrogation, Chisako finally confessed – she’d murdered three of her lovers, and attempted to murder a fourth.

Sadistic crimes begin

Asahi News reports Chisako married her first husband in 1969 when she was 23 years old. They were married for 25 years until he died of an illness in 1994.

By 2007, Chisako had become romantically involved with Toshiaki Suehiro, 78. One afternoon that same year, Chisako went out for lunch with her partner and his children.

But just minutes after eating, Toshiaki collapsed on the street. An ambulance was called immediately, but by the time paramedics arrived, Toshiaki was clinging to life. A court heard he was “on the verge of stopping breathing.”

Chisako rode in the ambulance with her lover, but gave a fake name when they arrived at hospital, telling staff she was called Hiraoka.

The house Chisako shared with Isao has attracted horrified members of the community


New York Times / Redux / eyevine)

Doctors realised Toshiaki was close to death and had suffered from internal asphyxiation. They managed to save him, but for the last months of his life, he suffered from visual impairment. He died of an unrelated illness a year later.

Years later in Chisako’s murder trial, it was ruled had given her partner cyanide, which she’d disguised as the health supplements he took.

Motorcycle murder

In 2011, Chisako got into a relationship with 71-year-old Masanori Honda. They had a whirlwind romance and had announced they were engaged shortly after meeting, CNN reports.

But they never reached their wedding day, as Honda came to his untimely end in March 2012 when Chisako seized her opportunity.

On 9th March, she briefly met Honda at a store. Hours later, he was dead.

Honda had driven off from the store on his motorbike, but lost consciousness while riding and fell off. He was rushed to hospital but died two hours later.

Later evidence revealed Chisako had been unfaithful to Honda in the months leading up to his death, and had started dating other men in January 2012.

Final killings

Minoru Hioki, 75, was recovering from lung cancer when he started dating Chisako. He’d had a relapse of the disease and had feared for his life, but when it seemed his radiotherapy was working, he was in high spirits.

Hioki and his new lover were reported to have been extremely close and stayed at each other’s houses most nights.

But on September 20, Hioki’s happiness was brought to an abrupt end after dinner with his partner.

The trial of Chisako Kakehi drew in hundreds of spectators


AFP/Getty Images)

He also took health supplements at regular intervals, and had taken some before he ate – but he collapsed immediately after finishing the meal.

When the ambulance arrived, Hioki was “breathing painfully and gasping.” Chisako spun a web of lies to paramedics.

She told them her lover didn’t have any family and insisted he had terminal cancer. In reality, he was recovering from cancer and had children.

Chillingly, Chisako refused to give permission to resuscitate Hioki. Two hours later, he was dead.

Only two months on from Hioki’s death, Chisako was already married to her final husband, Isao Kakehi.

Motivated by money

Police investigations revealed Chisako had targeted her victims for one reason – they were elderly and had significant financial assets.

In 2007, when Chisako attempted to murder Toshiaki Suehiro, she was in hundreds of thousands of pounds worth of debt.

Judges sentenced Chisako Kakehi to death


AFP/Getty Images)

A court ruled Chisako “thought she would kill (him) and avoid the repayment.”

After Honda’s motorcycle death, police ruled Chisako had inherited 16 million yen (£106,000) from him. Although it was never confirmed exactly how much she inherited in total from her partners’ deaths, Asahi News estimates it was about 500 million yen (£3.3 million).

By the time she had killed Isao, it was clear Chisako was no longer in financial difficulty, and a court ruled she had been “disregarding human life for her own financial desire.”

Defence and trial

When questioned about her crimes, Chisako Kakehi, now 74, has both confessed to murder and protested her innocence – changing her story several times.

Her lawyers offered a defence that she’s suffering from dementia and couldn’t be tried for the crimes she’d been accused of.

However, during one of the longest trials Japan has ever seen in 2017, the court ruled she was guilty of murdering three men and attempting to murder a fourth.

By the end of her trial, Chisako had been dubbed a ‘black widow’. She was sentenced to death for her crimes.

Her defence team appealed the decision, but in June 2021 the appeal was rejected.

Chisako has never offered a full explanation for her crimes – only admitting she’d committed them once or twice,

Sentencing her, the judge said: “It is a ruthless crime based on a planned and strong murderous intention.”

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