“Setting a fire — smoke gives delight — to a country fellow.”
That's the haiku Kosei Homi stuck in his window after killing five seniors and burning their bodies in a tiny Japanese village two years ago. On Tuesday, Homi was sentenced to death by hanging, the AFP reported, despite the fact that he suffers from a mental disorder. His lawyers are appealing the sentence.
Homi's grisly crimes—and the haunting haiku—horrified the nation in July 2013. He beat his 70- to 80-year-old victims to death, set two of their houses on fire, and fled, leaving the haiku behind as a clue. He was arrested a few days later, dressed only in his underwear, after a huge manhunt through the surrounding mountains.
According to news reports, he moved to the village in western Yamaguchi Prefecture to live with his elderly parents. After they died, he lived alone and argued with his neighbors.
The village held only 10 households, and the dead amounted to almost a third of its entire population.
Japan is the only industrialized country besides the U.S. that still has the death penalty. Inmates on death row are kept in minuscule solitary cells, and are only informed of when they will be executed just a few hours before it takes place. About 125 inmates remain on death row. Although human rights groups have criticized the policy, and a group of former prosecutors has called for reform, polls show that more than 80 percent of population supports capital punishment.
Casey Tolan is a National News Reporter for Fusion based in New York City.