Katsuhisa Ezaki, President of Glico (Creator of Pocky), was bathing in the bathroom when two armed masked men kidnapped him and took him to a warehouse in Ibaraki, Osaka. Before finding Ezaki, they had tied up his mother, wife, and eldest daughter. When the wife offered them money, they said, “Be quiet. Money is irrelevant." Despite saying this, they demanded one billion yen, almost eleven million in today’s dollars, and 220 pounds of gold bullion. This was the largest ransom ever demanded in Japan. The kidnappers called themselves, “The Monster with 21 Faces”. Ezaki escaped three days later and the ransom wasn’t paid. The criminals didn’t seem to care about the money though. What did they really want?
A few weeks later, vehicles in Glico's parking lot were set on fire. Then in Ibaraki, where their warehouse was located, a container with hydrochloric acid and a threatening letter for Glico was found. The letter written by “The Monster with 21 Faces” claimed that they laced the company’s candies with potassium cyanide soda. Supermarket chains and retailers panicked forcing Glico to pull the products off the shelves, resulting in a $21 million loss and the layoff of 450 part-time workers.
After the Monster threatened to lace Glico Candies with poison, a man wearing a Yomiuri Giants baseball cap was caught placing Glico chocolate on a store shelf by a security camera. This man was believed to be behind the Monster with 21 Faces. The security camera photo was made public after this incident but the man was never found.
No traces of cyanide were ever found in any Glico products. As if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, the Monster continued to send hints and play with the police like “Why are you complaining? You guys are having such a hard time, so I will give you a hint. I entered the factory from the side staff entrance. The typewriter we used is PAN-writer. The plastic container used was a piece of street garbage.”
Or this note:
“In our group, there’s a 4-year-old kid—every day he cries for Glico … it’s a drag to make a kid cry cause he’s deprived of the candy he loves” - Monster with 21 Faces
In June, the Monster issued a message stating they forgive Glico, and all harassment towards the company stopped. But the Monster wasn’t done playing yet. Their next targets were Morinaga, another candy company, and food companies like Marudai Ham, House Food Corporation, and Fujiya being sent similar threatening letters and attacks, using the same name.
On October 1984, a letter signed by the Monster with 21 Faces was sent to Osaka news agencies with a warning stating that 20 packages of Morinaga candy were laced with sodium cyanide. After receiving this letter, police searched stores in cities like Tokyo to faraway Hakata. They found over a dozen lethal packages of Morinaga Choco Balls and Angel Pies. They weren’t hard to find considering the packages had labels, such as "Danger: Contains Toxins", placed on them. They then received another letter stating “There would be no such labels next time.” More tampered confections were found in February 1985, making a total of 21 lethal sweet products. Morinaga & Company was forced to reduce current production by 90%.
To stop harassment against Marudai Ham, the Monster’s next victim, one of their employees was to hand the Monster ransom money on a train. A detective disguised himself as a worker and met the suspect known as the "Fox-Eyed Man”. The man was described as well-built, hair cut short and permed, with "eyes like those of a fox." After dropping the ransom as instructed, the detective and another investigator attempted to follow the Fox-Eyed Man, only to lose him. They even got a second chance to catch him later on, but, yet again, he avoided capture.
In Japan 1984, only 27 kidnappings were reported in the previous year, a crime like the Glico Morinaga Case was pretty much unheard of. During the year 1983, the National Police Agency had solved 97% of all their murders. This reputation earned them the respect and envy of many police forces around the world. Even with all their skills and experience, they just couldn’t seem to figure out who was behind this, and attention towards the case was growing every day. This caused tremendous amounts of frustration, stress, and the Japanese police force felt a great amount of shame.
Because of continuing harassment towards the police, a year later, in August 1985, Police Superintendent Yamamoto committed suicide by walking into his backyard, dousing himself in kerosene oil, and setting himself on fire due to being ashamed of his failure to capture the Fox-Eyed Man.
Five days after the officer's death, the Monster with 21 Faces sent their final letter to the media:
"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
The Monster with 21 Faces was never heard from again.
“Theories abound regarding the Monster’s identity. Fruitless interviews of around 125,000 suspects will get you a lot of theories. All manner of people, from yakuza to disgruntled Glico employees, from stock manipulators—there was money to be made in the drastic plunge of Morinaga stock, if one had been warned of it beforehand—to North Korean secret agents to Katsuhisa Ezaki himself were considered and cleared.” -Souce: CrimeReads.com
Sounds like an insane TV Crime Show, right? To think the person or group responsible might still be out there is quite daunting, isn’t it?
Without Vocal, I would have never learned about this mystery. Stories like this always blow my mind so I hope ya’ll enjoyed reading it. Feel free to follow me on my socials here.