Families and friends mourned Friday the loss of loved ones after police released the names of all nine people whose dismembered bodies were found last month near Tokyo, with some expressing anger and others disbelief.
The victims -- a man and eight women aged between 15 and 26 -- were found in an apartment in Zama, Kanagawa Prefecture, rented by 27-year-old Takahiro Shiraishi, who was arrested on Oct. 31 and confessed to killing all nine and dismembering their bodies.
"I have been watching the news all night. But I still don't believe it," said Hirofumi Suda, 62, father of 17-year-old Akari Suda, who DNA tests showed was among the victims.
After the list was released overnight, Suda spoke to reporters Friday morning in front of his home in Fukushima Prefecture, northeastern Japan.
His daughter, a high school senior, had dreamed of becoming a manga artist, and served as a leader of a junior high school art club where she drew a picture for the front page of a school booklet.
She went missing after attending a school sports day on Sept. 26, according to the high school.
It was impossible for the police to identify the victims immediately due to the state of the dismembered body parts that had been stored in cooling boxes in Shiraishi's apartment.
Some of the victims' belongings found in the apartment and other evidence, including GPS data from mobile phones, led the police to collect samples from family members to allow them to conduct DNA tests.
Shiraishi targeted women who expressed suicidal thoughts on social media to become acquainted with them and earn their trust by posting his own suicidal wishes on Twitter, according to investigative sources.
The oldest victim, Hitomi Fujima, 26, from Kasukabe, Saitama Prefecture, went missing after leaving her workplace earlier than usual on Sept. 13. She moved to Kasukabe with her husband and daughter in 2015 and her family vacated their home in October, according to neighbors.
"She seemed hesitant to leave (on her last day at work). I feel guilty for not saying anything to her," a male co-worker said. "I can't forgive the suspect if he preyed on her distress."
The only male victim, Shogo Nishinaka, 20, was allegedly killed after confronting Shiraishi about the whereabouts of his girlfriend who was his first victim, according to investigative sources.
He was known as an enthusiastic bass guitarist who played in a band while working at a facility for handicapped people. Nishinaka, who lived in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, had spoken of his plans to tour with his band, according to an acquaintance.
The alleged first victim Mizuki Miura, a 21-year-old logistics company employee from Atsugi, Kanagawa Prefecture, left a note at her family home, saying she wanted to live alone.
According to investigators, Shiraishi allegedly asked Miura to live with him and received 500,000 yen ($4,400) from her to rent an apartment. Shiraishi also said he did not have any hesitation in killing his first victim, nor others.
"She was a gentle and kind person," said a 22-year-old college student who was a classmate of Miura in junior high school. "I can't believe something like this happened to a person I know."
The youngest victim was Kureha Ishihara, 15, a high school freshman in the town of Ora, Gunma Prefecture.
A person associated with the local education board recalled Ishihara from when she asked about a fall in the town's population as a member of a "Child Assembly" program organized by the municipality in July last year.
A student from her school said Friday, "I think everyone was worried about her. I am shocked."
Other victims were 23-year-old Aiko Tamura from Tokyo, who was the first victim identified by police; 17-year-old high school student Natsumi Kubo and 19-year-old university student Hinako Sarashina, both Saitama Prefecture natives; and Kazumi Maruyama, 25, who worked at a convenience store in Yokohama, Kanagawa Prefecture.