Cops collar cult queen for follower's fetid corpse

Mainichi Shimbun/November 7, 2002

Fukuoka -- An elderly woman and a follower of her cult were arrested Thursday over the discovery of a mummified corpse at her Fukuoka home last month, police said.

Cult leader Kazuko Ueno and group member Teruko Nakashima are accused of mutilating the corpse of another believer, Katsuko Yoshikai. They have also been hit with charges of illegal disposal of a body.

Police said Yoshikai died in May this year at Ueno's home, apparently through either disease or of natural causes, but the duo did not report her death to authorities and had concealed her body in the house. The women reportedly frequently pricked the decomposing corpse with a needle to release gas that had built up and covered it with disposable nappies containing odor-eating agents in an attempt to negate the foul odor emanating from it.

Ueno claimed that she was trying to resurrect the dead woman. "I was praying to revive her," the 63-year-old woman was quoted by police as saying.

Police are probing the circumstances of 57-year-old Yoshikai's death, not dismissing the possibility that the two women caused her death by failing to provide proper care, such as taking her to hospital.

The three women belonged to another cult based in Hiroshima Prefecture but Ueno left the group in March 1998 to form a religious organization of her own and 46-year-old Nakashima and Yoshikai followed her, police said.

Nakashima and Yoshikai started living in Ueno's home, which she shared with her 70-year-old husband and her 41-year-old son.

Police made the gruesome discovery on Oct. 27 after the son reported the vile odor. Yoshikai's daughter in Tokyo had filed a missing person's report in early October.

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