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Monster With 21 Faces

by Doug MacGowan
The Monster with 21 Faces

The Monster with 21 Faces

For 17 months in the mid-1980s, a criminal(s) named “The Monster with 21 Faces” terrorized Japan with a string of crimes. The culprit(s) was never caught.

It all began on March 18, 1984, when two masked men kidnapped a man named Katsuhisa Ezaki, who was the CEO of a candy manufacturer named Glico. He was taken to some sort of warehouse and a ransom demand for 1 billion yen was requested for his safe return. Fortunately, before the ransom could be paid, Ezaki managed to escape.

This was only the beginning, however, of a reign of terror.

In April of 1984, several vehicles parked outside of the Glico headquarters were torched and the surrounding area was destroyed.

Although police had been called in during the Ezaki kidnapping, the authorities stepped up their investigations to find the person or persons responsible for the crimes seemingly targeting Glico and its employees.

In May of the same year, Glico received a threatening letter signed by “The Monster with 21 Faces” stating that packages of Glico candies would be poisoned with cyanide. After some discussion it was decided that all Glico candies would have to be pulled from grocery stores throughout Japan. This was disastrous and resulted in a profit loss of more than $20 million and caused more than 400 workers to be laid off.

The police had few leads. It was reported that a security camera in a grocery store had captured a man not affiliated with the store putting Glico products on the store’s shelves. The man wore a baseball hat and was difficult to identify. Also, there was only one man in the footage and it was known that there were two men involved in the kidnapping of Ezaki. The police did not know how many people they were looking for.

As time went on, the Monster widened the letter-writing campaign to include the media, in one letter saying:

Dear stupid police officers. Don’t lie. All crimes begin with a lie as we say in Japan. Don’t you know that?…. You seem to be at a loss….

Monster With 21 Faces

All of Japan was terrified. Candy sales plummeted.

In the summer of 1984 the Monster expanded his/their ransom request activities to include other candy companies and assorted food manufacturers.

The police continued to track down the few clues they had. They remained stumped until late June.

monster with 21 faces

Glico candy products were targeted by the ‘Monster With 21 Faces’.

In that month, the Monster said he/they would put an end to his/their activities in exchange for 50 million yen. The money was to be thrown out of a train speeding towards the city of Kyoto. The drop off location would be signified by the presence of a white flag along the route. The money was gathered and an undercover policeman boarded the train and looked for the flag.

The policeman did not see a white flag, but did notice a fellow male train passenger acting strangely. The policeman described the man as having an athletic build, but the most remarkable feature was that the suspect had “eyes like a fox.” Despite an effort to keep the man under surveillance, the suspect managed to elude an investigator in the Kyoto train station. Another attempted ransom drop in November was equally unsuccessful in capturing the Monster.

In October of 1984, the Monster sent the media a letter addressed to the mothers throughout Japan. In it, he/they stated that he/they had poisoned 20 packages of candy and placed them on grocery store shelves. Police fanned out throughout the country and managed to recover more than 10 packages that had been tampered with.

In January of 1985, based on the previous store video footage and a description of the man on the Kyoto train, the police issued a wanted poster. Nobody came forward to identify the suspect. The investigation continued.

In August, the Monster claimed his first victim, although indirectly. Pressured by the lack of an arrest and an investigation that was going nowhere, the police superintendent heading up the hunt killed himself by setting himself on fire. Once news of the suicide was reported, the Monster sent what would be his/their last letter to the media saying, in part:

(The police superintendent) died. How stupid of him! We’ve got no friends or secret hiding place…. What have (the police) been doing for the last year and five months? Don’t let criminals like us get away with it…. We decided to forget about tormenting food companies. If anyone blackmails any other food 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 an evil man’s life….

Monster With 21 Faces

Time went by, but no progress was ever made in tracking down the perpetrator(s).

The case is now officially closed. Even if the Monster was caught today, he/they could not be prosecuted due to the expiration of Japanese statutes of limitations for kidnapping and for the poisoning of food products.


The Monster with 21 Faces,” Wikipedia, pulled 1-6-15.
Glico Morinaga case,” Wikipedia, pulled 1-6-15.
The 5 Creepiest Unsolved Crimes Nobody Can Explain,” Cracked website, pulled 1-6-15.
Monster With 21 Faces,” Japan Talk website, pulled 1-6-15.
The Glico Morinaga Case aka the Monster With 21 Faces,” spookymrsboo website, pulled 1-6-15.

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