Friday, March 16, 2012

Freaky (Factual) Tale Friday: 'The Monster with 21 Faces' crime syndicate terrorized Japan, taunted police with clues on how to capture them...and still remains at large

(photo @ realfoodfreaks)

Nishinomiya, Japan

On March 18, 1984 at 9:00 PM, three armed kidnappers broke into the home of Katsuhisa Ezaki, who was the president of Ezaki Glico, a large Japanese candy company.  The kidnappers took him from his home, called the company's headquarters, and demanded a ransom of 1 billion yen and 100 kilograms of gold.

Three days later, on March 21, Ezaki was able to free himself and escape...which he probably should have done sooner, since he was left completely unguarded.  The kidnappers never identified themselves and Ezaki never got to find out if his company would have payed the exorbitant ransom get him back safely.

Of course we were going to pay! In fact, we
were on just our way back from the bank when you got here!

But whoever kidnapped Ezaki wasn't through.  On April 10, three cars in the Glicco trial production building parking lot were set on fire.  Then on April 16, police found a plastic jug of hydrochloric acid with a note attached threatening the company.

On May 10, the perpetrators of the past two months finally began using their words to communicate with Glico by sending threatening (and more specific) letters. 

'The Monster with 21 Faces', as they called themselves, warned Glico executives that they had laced many of their candies with cyanide.  Glico pulled nearly all of their products off of store shelves, resulting in massive profit losses and employee layoffs for the company.  

Just to ramp things up a notch, The Monster with 21 Faces decided to also send letters to police, taunting them over their inability to find out who was behind the arson attack and blackmail attempts.  One of their letters to police read:

"You seem to be at a loss. So why not let us help you? We'll give you a clue. We entered the factory by the front gate. The typewriter we used is Panwriter. The plastic container used was a piece of street garbage. Monster with 21 faces."

 The letter most likely concluded with this picture.

Then on June 26, the crime group sent a final letter claiming "We Forgive Glico!" and ceased all claims of poisoning the company's products.  But as Glico's nightmare was ending, Morinaga & Company, another Japanese candy maker, was about to face The Monster's confusing yet inevitable wrath.

In October of the same year, a letter from The Monster with 21 Faces was sent to Osaka news agencies.  It was addressed to "Moms of the Nation" and warned of another round of candy poisonings.  This time, the group claimed that they had randomly placed 20 packages of Morinaga candy on supermarket shelves that had been laced with cyanide.

Police scoured supermarket shelves across all of Japan...and in case any of you think that this group was just making false claims as some sort of prank, 12 packages of poisoned candy were found.  After investigating further, police found 9 more poisoned packages, bringing the total to 21.

Yes, Mr. Lawrence, things most definitely did "get real."

It should be noted, however, that the packages containing the poisoned candy were also helpfully marked with a labels that proclaimed "DANGER: CONTAINS TOXINS."  The Monster with 21 Faces may have been diabolical, but no one could ever accuse them of being inconsiderate.

In the meantime, The Monster was also extorting Marudai Food Company, demanding 50 million yen in exchange for an agreement to stop harassing them.  On June 28, the money drop was to take place at a local train station.  The police sent one of their own disguised as a Marudai employee in hopes of catching a member of the crime syndicate that had until this point, no one had experienced any human contact with.

At the drop, the police officer observed someone following him who he described as having "eyes like those of a fox."  The "Fox Eyed Man," as he became called, was lost in the crowd as police attempted to close in on him.

On November 14, executives from the House Food Corporation arranged to pay The Monster 100 million yen to stop being harassed and threatened.  Once again, the drop off (which would also secretly involve the police) was to take place at a local train station...and once again, the Fox Eyed Man appeared.  

As police attempted to close in on him, he was again able to disappear, leaving behind a police scanner that he had used to track their movements.

"You think our organization is run by
a bunch of stupid reptiles or something?!"

The only other possible lead that police had was security camera footage of a man wearing a baseball cap who was placing placing Gilco chocoates on a store shelf.  Police used a composite sketch to identify the man in the baseball cap and the Fox Eyed Man as well known Japanese underworld criminal Manabu Miyazaki.

Unfortunately for the police, Miyazaki's alibis all checked out; there was no way he could have been where he would have needed to be to commit the The Monster's crimes.

The Monster continued to extort corporations and taunt the police.  One police superintendent, Yamamoto of the Shiga Prefecture (where the Fox Eyed Man had escaped a second time) became so distraught over his department's inability to make an arrest in the case that he committed lighting himself on fire

Still not as painful as an HR exit interview

And with that, The Monster with 21 Faces decided to call it quits.  They sent a final letter to the media on August 12, 1985, that read (emphasis mine):

"Yamamoto of Shiga Prefecture Police died. How stupid of him! We've got no friends or secret hiding place in Shiga. It's Yoshino or Shikata who should have died. What have they been doing for as long as one year and five months? Don't let bad guys like us get away with it. There are many more fools who want to copy us. No-career Yamamoto died like a man. So we decided to give our condolence. We decided to forget about torturing food-making companies. If anyone blackmails any of the food-making companies, it's not us but someone copying us. We are bad guys. That means we've got more to do other than bullying companies. It's fun to lead a bad man's life. Monster with 21 Faces."

Since that letter in 1985, no one has heard from The Monster with 21 Faces.  No suspects have been named and no arrests have been made.  Their motivations, their members, and the source of their capabilities remain a mystery.
But just to be on the safe side, if you see any fox holes
popping up around a Japanese candy company, alert the authorities.