While many true crime offerings on Netflix are about the various theories surrounding unsolved murders, the woman at the center of Elize Matsunaga: Once Upon a Crime has already confessed to killing her husband.
Instead, the intrigue of the limited series is for viewers to hear Elize Matsunaga tell her own side of the story. She provided her first and only public interview for the Netflix docuseries, and she shared details about her background, her marriage, and her crime.
In 2012, her husband, Marcos Kitano Matsunaga, went missing from his apartment in São Paulo, Brazil. Because the 42-year-old millionaire Yoki businessman was about to close a substantial business deal, many initially suspected that he had been kidnapped.
Though his wife played along with the kidnapping theory for a while, she ultimately confessed to the killing.
Read on to find out more information about the case, including the marital issues that the couple was dealing with at the time of the murder, and to learn where Elize Matsunaga is today.
What happened to Marcos Kitano Matsunaga?
Prior to the murder, Marcos and Elize Matsunaga had struggles in their marriage. The two had met when Marcos Matsunaga used Elize Matsunaga as an escort, a job she had taken after working as a nurse to put herself through law school. At the time, he was married to someone else.
After Marcos Matsunaga got divorced, he wed Elize Matsunaga. Before the couple welcomed their daughter together, they dealt with Marcos Matsunaga's infidelity.
In the docuseries, Elize Matsunaga shared that she had planned on divorcing her husband, but she found out she was pregnant. She initially thought that her husband would be done cheating because they had expanded their family after years of trying.
However, her suspicions were ignited again about six months after their daughter was born. She eventually hired a private detective, who proved that Marcos Matsunaga was having another affair.
On May 20, 2012, Marcos Matsunaga went missing from the apartment he shared with his wife and daughter. Elize Matsunaga claimed that he had fled on his own accord with money because he was in fear for his own life.
Emails were sent from Marcos Matsunaga's account to his other family members to attempt to prove that he was still alive. However, about a week after he first went missing, a dismembered body was found in bags around Cotia, Brazil.
The body was later identified as Marcos Matsunaga. He had been shot, and his throat had been cut before his body was cleanly dismembered.
Elize Matsunaga admitted that she killed her husband after they had an argument at dinner on the night of May 19. She claimed that, after he returned to the residence from picking up a pizza, he had grabbed her by the throat and he had threatened to take their daughter. She said that she grabbed her gun as a result, and she shot her spouse.
Though Elize Matsunaga's defense team claimed that she killed Marcos Matsunaga in a crime of passion because she was scared for her life, the prosecution argued that it was a premeditated killing.
Where is Elize Matsunaga now?
In December of 2016, Elize Matsunaga pled guilty to murdering her husband and to concealing a corpse. She was sentenced to 19 years in prison, and she began her time at the Tremembé Women's Penitentiary.
While behind bars, Elize Matsunaga learned how to sew. She participated in Once Upon a Crime while she was furloughed from prison in 2019 for good behavior.
She is now back at a women's prison in Tremembé, and she has yet to see her daughter.
Once Upon a Crime is available to stream on Netflix now.