Family ‘believes mummified relatives have been alive for months’

Rina Yasutake, 49, was found dead in her family home in North Yorkshire.  (PA)

Rina Yasutake, 49, was found dead in her family home in North Yorkshire. (PA)

The family of the woman who had a partially mummified corpse in their home continued to believe she was still alive for months after she died.

Rina Yasutake, 49, was found dead in the home she shared with her mother and siblings in the village of Helmsley, North Yorkshire.

In September 2018, suspicions arose at the local chemist when his 51-year-old brother Takahiro and 56-year-old sister Yoshika repeatedly purchased bottles of surgical spirits over the course of several days.

Despite extensive police investigation into what happened, no cause of death could be determined.

Police pulled up security tape to prevent entry to the crime scene

Police said the family were “fully convinced” that Rina Yasutake was alive. (Getty)

Emergency services were called to the family’s address in Bondgate, where paramedics found Yasutake’s lifeless body on the floor under a duvet on a mattress.

Craig Hassall KC, representing the family, asked Detective Superintendent Nichola Holden, who led the police investigation, if he was “fully convinced” that the family was alive when the emergency services arrived.

The detective replied: “They were there then and months later.”

Home Office pathologist Dr Jennifer Bolton said it was difficult to determine how long Yasutake had been dead given the size of the mummification, but it took “several weeks” to reach the level at which he developed.

Brother, sister and their 80-year-old mother, Michiko Yasutake, were accused of obstructing a legal and proper burial, but the prosecution was stopped when family members were found to be suffering from a rare mental illness.

Coroner Jon Heath was told there was no evidence of any third party involvement in his death, no signs of injury or toxicological causes.

Rina Yasutake, Japanese, was a gifted student and won a scholarship to Cambridge University, where she majored in linguistics and studied the classics.

According to the investigation, he did not work after college and his family had lived together in Helmsley for 20 years.

In statements given to a psychiatrist, the brother and sister said that during 2018 Rina Yasutake stopped eating, became weaker, and began to move less and less.

Earlier that year, it was recorded that Ms. Yasutake, who was 4 feet 11 inches tall, weighed just six pounds.

Yoshika Yasutake told the psychiatrist: “He didn’t say much, so we told him to eat and drink more.

“It was like it was feeding on your soul.”

Mr. Hassall describes his clients as “a very introverted and isolated family” and Ms. Holden admits that communication is difficult as they speak their own dialect, even when using a Japanese translator.

Ms. Holden said that during the investigations it was determined that there were no means of communication with the outside world and that there was no television or radio.

Mr. Heath noted a clear conclusion, saying, “I cannot determine how he died on the basis of the available evidence.”

The family did not participate in the investigation, but Mr Heath said they would listen to a recording later.

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