Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

A Mother’s Failed Suicide and the Drowning Deaths of her Children

A Revelation Precipitates Crisis

One day in mid-January 1985, Fumiko received a phone call from a stranger. The caller was a female Japanese immigrant who confessed that she had been enjoying a romantic relationship with Itsuroku for the past three years. A classically “kept” mistress, she lived in an apartment Itsuroku paid for and in which he visited her about three times a week. The woman wanted to break off the relationship but believed Fumiko was entitled to know of her husband’s infidelity.

The mistress, Kazue Tanahashi, visited the Kimuras and the three of them discussed the situation. Fumiko learned that Itsuroku had impregnated Kazue who had aborted the pregnancy.

The story of Kazue’s abortion may have torn open the wounds left by Fumiko’s own abortion.

In the days after this discussion, Fumiko had trouble sleeping and began drinking sake to combat her insomnia and anxiety. Then she saw a doctor to obtain sleeping medicine. She could no longer breastfeed and fretted that Yuri was losing weight now that she had to rely on formula.

On January 27, Fumiko telephoned family members in Japan who were alarmed by how irrational she sounded, bouncing from one subject to another and making little sense.

The next day, a messenger arrived at the Kimura home with a note for Fumiko. It was from her husband’s girlfriend who apologized for the affair and offered to commit suicide if it would help heal the family’s wounds.

Fumiko made no reply to this message.

On January 28, a neighbor visited Fumiko. Although Fumiko wore a watch, she repeatedly asked her visitor for the time. She appeared distraught and distracted. To aggravate matters even more, Kazutaka was sick with a cold.

That evening Itsuroku did not come home until 2:00 a.m. As usual, his wife had waited up so she could wash his feet.

The next day – ten days after learning of her husband’s affair — Fumiko told Itsuroku that she was taking Yuri to the pediatrician for a check-up and would take the sickly Kazutaka as well.

Before Itsuroku left for work, Fumiko kissed her unfaithful husband and said, “Please go and come safely.”

Since the weather was chilly, she dressed the youngsters in warm clothes.

Fumiko and the children boarded a bus bound for Santa Monica beach. The trio transferred twice and it took them two hours to reach Fumiko’s intended destination.

Since it was early morning, the beach was almost deserted. Fumiko carried Yuri and held Kazutaka’s hand, leading them past a Cocky Moon hotdog stand and a shooting gallery.

Even though he had a cold, the energetic Kazutaka ran and played with the sand. His mother took his hand firmly again.

She led him and carried his baby sister into the water and waded until she was deep inside it. Then she put her head under the water, opened her mouth and repeatedly gulped salty water.

As she was doing this, she held her children’s heads underwater. Bruises found on their bodies showed that the terrified children fought desperately for their lives as their mother drowned them.

Then the college students mentioned at the start of this article saw what they first thought was a mass of seaweed.

When Itsuroku came home that evening, he was surprised to find his wife and children gone from home. While searching for them, he discovered his daughter’s stroller abandoned near a bus stop.

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