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HomeNewsFamily kept daughter's mummified remains after being ‘convinced she was still alive'

Family kept daughter's mummified remains after being ‘convinced she was still alive'

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A woman found partially mummified in her home was kept by her family for weeks as they believed she was alive, an inquest in Northallerton has heard.

Police discovered the remains of Rina Yasutake at the home she shared with her family in the town of Helmsley, North Yorkshire, after receiving a tipoff in September 2018.

The 49-year-old had died earlier that year, but her mother and siblings kept her corpse for six weeks believing she was still alive.

Pharmacists alerted police after Ms Yasutake’s brother and sister, Takahiro Yasutake, 56, and 51-year-old Yoshika Yasutake, regularly bought large supplies of surgical spirit.

In testimony read out in court, they told a psychiatrist how, from 2018, she had stopped eating and often didn’t drink.

The weakened Ms Yasutake also didn’t want to leave her bed, and, despite encouraging her at first, her family left her to follow her own path.

Her mother believed she was receiving “spiritual food” and was fulfilled.

Yoshika told the psychiatrist that her sister “didn’t say much” so they told her to “eat and drink more”.

She added that she “looked like she was being nourished by eating her soul”.

Records showed that 4ft 11 Ms Yasutake weight just six stone and six pounds before her death.

Her siblings indicated the spirits they purchased from the pharmacy were for their sister, but staff said they could smell dead bodies.

Once they alerted authorities, ambulance workers attended their shared home and discovered Ms Yasutake dead.

Police Detective Inspector Nichola Holden said they were convinced she was alive in the months before police became involved in the case.

Jon Heath, the senior coroner for North Yorkshire, provided a verdict stating Ms Yasutake had not died from a topological or third-party cause.

But Mr Heath was unable “from the evidence available” to determine how she died.

The court heard Ms Yasutake saw her GP in 2013 following an aggressive episode and received counselling.

She was not seen again after receiving local community mental health treatment.

In 2021, a judge ruled that prosecution for preventing a lawful burial was not in the public interest, as the three suffered from an “extremely rare mental affliction” that “created a unique situation for the criminal courts”.

DI Holden described the family as “isolated” and “insular” who spoke a “unique” Japanese dialect even interpreters struggled to understand.

They moved to Britain after Ms Yasutake’s mother married a British man.

The inquest heard that, in her youth, she attended private Queen Mary’s School near Thirsk and eventually won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where she studied classics.

They had moved to Helmsley, a small town to the north of York, in the early 2000s but did not integrate into the local community.

While she did not have a full-time job, she was a talented artist who occasionally sold her work.



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