Detective Tamegoro Ikii and the Bank Poisoning Massacre Part 2

About the famous detective Tamegoro Ikii and the bank poisioning massacre, history and solution of the crime.

GREAT DETECTIVES AND THEIR MOST SPECTACULAR CASES

TAMEGORO IKII AND THE BANK POISONING MASSACRE (1948)

The Chase

At first all the police could discover about the worst crime committed in postwar Japan was that it had been preceded by two apparent "rehearsals" at other banks. During one, the murdered had given the bank manager a card which identified him as Dr. Shigeru Matsui. (He had presented a card imprinted with a different name to the bank official in the fatal robbery, but he had reappropriated it.) These earlier guinea pigs had drunk the proffered liquid and suffered no ill effects. The doctor left, promising that a military health team would check up on the bank later, but none did. Since no crime was apparent, however, no one reported the incident.

The exchange of calling cards has an important meaning in Japan, and custom calls for each party to retain cards so received. When the police tracked down the real Dr. Matsui, he said he had had 100 such cards printed and had only 4 left. He had exchanged about 50 and given the rest to patients. Because he could not remember which patients, the police questioned all of them. Ikii was convinced the solution lay in the 50 calling cards Dr. Matsui had exchanged with businessmen, fellow doctors, and other acquaintances. He questioned and requestioned the recipients and surreptitiously checked the financial condition of each of them. That led eventually to the most likely suspect in Ikii's view, an artist of some renown whom the doctor had met on a ferry. Fifty-year-old Sadamichi Hirasawa, who lived on the Japanese island of Hokkaido, had been interrogated earlier and dropped as a suspect because he was so quiet and mild-mannered. However, Ikii discovered that the artist had actually been in Tokyo at the time of the crime, and a further check of his movements showed that he could have been at the Teikoku Bank at the crucial moment. Ikii also discovered that Hirasawa needed money badly, and that shortly after the robbery 44,500 yen had been deposited in his bank account. Ikii was by then convinced that Hirasawa was his man, because he felt the plot was not only heinous but so bizarre that it would take an artist's mind to conceive it. No one else on the suspect list qualified.

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