Los Angeles: On March 29, 1979, Chizuko Shiraishi, a 34-year-old Japanese citizen, flew alone from Japan to Los Angeles. Two days prior, on March 27, Kazuyoshi Miura, flew alone from Japan to Los Angeles. On April 6, 1979, Miura returned to Japan alone, but Shiraishi never came back and would officially remain “missing” for almost five years.
On May 4, 1979, a little over one month after Shiraishi arrived in Los Angeles, a young boy discovered the skeletal remains of an unidentified woman. Those remains were found in a vacant field a substantial distance from the nearest intersection. The location was remote enough to ensure the body would not be found for some time. The Los Angeles Police Department’s (LAPD) Foothill Area Homicide Unit handled the initial investigation.
The Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office was unable to determine a cause of death due to the condition of the remains. Without a cause of death, without knowledge of the woman’s identity and without any other information regarding the woman’s background, the death was officially categorized as an “Undetermined Death,” and would remain so for many years.
On Nov. 18, 1981, an apparently unrelated victim, Kazumi Miura, was shot in the head in downtown Los Angeles. Her husband, Kazuyoshi Miura, was also shot in the leg. His wound caused only a superficial injury. Miura described the attack as a robbery and provided a description of the alleged attackers and their getaway car. As we know, Mrs. Miura never regained consciousness and died just over one year later. In time, Miura became the focus of the investigation and it was believed that he had arranged his wife’s murder. This was partly due to very inconsistent statements about the shooting and the description of the getaway vehicle he provided, which was in direct contrast to the vehicle description provided by several independent witnesses.
In early 1984, media accounts in Japan started to report information previously unknown that supported the belief that Miura had arranged his wife’s murder. One of the persons who became aware of these developments was the sister of Chizuko Shiraishi. She reported that Shiraishi had been romantically involved with Miura at the time she went to Los Angeles in 1979 and that she never heard from her again after that trip.
As a result of this information, the Shiraishi’s dental records were obtained from Japan. Those records were compared to the teeth of the unidentified remains of the woman found in the vacant lot in 1979. In March 1984, the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office determined that the remains were those of Chizuko Shiraishi.
As a result of that identification, Shiraishi’s death investigation was transferred to LAPD’s Robbery-Homicide Division and to the same detectives who were investigating the murder of Kazumi Miura. LAPD and the Tokyo Metropolitan Police Department conducted specific investigative work on the death of Shiraishi, but no charges were filed against Miura for that case. However, both Los Angeles and Japanese authorities eventually charged Miura with arranging the murder of his wife.
Miura was arrested on the Los Angeles warrant charging him with his wife’s murder in February 2008 on the island of Saipan. He was eventually extradited to California, arriving on Oct. 10, 2008. On that same night, he committed suicide in his jail cell. Concurrently, and for much of 2008, LAPD Detectives Rick Jackson and Richard Bengtson were actively investigating Shiraishi’s death and assembling the case against Miura concerning the expected trial for his wife’s murder. The detectives hoped to eventually charge Miura for his involvement in the death of Chizuko Shiraishi as well.
Based on an abundance of circumstantial evidence, Detectives Jackson and Bengtson, as well as other past detectives who have worked on the case here and in Japan, have no doubt that Shiraishi was murdered and that Miura was responsible. It isn’t one thing that caused this belief, but rather a very convincing compilation of facts that leave no other reasonable explanation for her death.
Last month, in December 2008, the Department officially reclassified the “Undetermined Death” of Chizuko Shiraishi to a “Homicide,” specifically “Murder.” The Department also officially named Kazuyoshi Miura as the suspect in her murder.
Evidence That Shiraishi’s Death Was Murder and that Miura Was the Suspect
1) Chizuko Shiraishi was a young woman and in good health – this alone supports that her death was very unlikely to be from natural causes.
2) Her body was dumped in a remote location away from more traveled areas, again supporting a theory of murder.
3) She traveled a long way alone, having no other reasonable purpose to be in Los Angeles other than to mee Miura, her boyfriend. However, Miura later made statements denying he ever saw her in Los Angeles, an extremely unlikely scenario considering how far she had traveled, with no other reasonable explanation for making the trip.
4) Upon returning to Tokyo alone, Miura began a two-month process of liquidating her bank account of approximately $20,000 with her ATM card. When he stopped withdrawing funds, Shiraishi’s account had less than $1 remaining. Miura certainly knew she wouldn’t complain about the missing funds because he knew she would never return.
5) Within days of returning to Japan, Miura was seen removing Shiraishi’s personal belongings from their shared apartment, including items of clothing and cosmetics, much of it unopened. Miura discarded these belongings in the apartment complex trash bins. Later, an apartment manager who had witnessed Miura’s actions went to the trash bins and ended up retrieving many of the items for his wife. Again, Miura knew Shiraishi wouldn’t return to complain about the loss of her personal belongings because he knew she was dead.
6) Adding to the last point, in 1981, Miura solicited a man to murder his wife and told him that if you wanted to make someone “disappear” you should discard that person’s belongings because it would appear the person left voluntarily. And this is exactly what Miura did in 1979 when he tried to make it look as if Shiraishi had left on her own.
7) Knowing that Shiraishi was already dead and lying unidentified in the Los Angeles County Coroner’s Office, Miura made false and inconsistent statements to people about Shiraishi’s whereabouts, telling them she was visiting family, caring for her sick mother or that she had moved to Hokkaido and was living with someone.
8) It’s obvious that Miura arranged his wife’s 1981 murder for financial gain, and that act totally supports his capacity and intent to have murdered Shiraishi in 1979 for the same reason. Twice he was responsible for the deaths of women in his life for financial gain.
LAPD detectives considered all of these factors in clearing the Chizuko Shiraishi case. They believe their findings are extremely compelling as evidence to support a conclusion that Kazuyoshi Miura heartlessly carried out the murder of Chizuko Shiraishi.