중앙데일리

Anyang slay suspect confesses

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Mar 18,2008
Classmates of Lee Hye-jin yesterday at the funeral service for the 10-year-old murder victim. “You reminded us of a sunflower,” the child’s best friend said in a funeral oration. By Kim Sang-seon

Following overnight questioning, a man being held in the disappearance of two schoolgirls on Christmas Day, confessed to killing the children, leading police to fan out across Gyeonggi Province to search for the body of the second victim yesterday. The body of the first victim was found last week.
The suspect, identified only by the last name Jeong, told police that he had killed Lee Hye-jin, 10, and buried her body. He also confessed to the murder of Wu Ye-seul, 8, whose body has not been found, Anyang police said yesterday.
The two girls were last seen on Dec. 25 in their Anyang neighborhood. Their mysterious disappearance turned into a homicide investigation last week after a dismembered body found in Suwon on Tuesday was later identified as that of Lee.
After 82 days of frustration in the search for a suspect, police captured Jeong late Sunday night. Interrogators focused on the fate of the second missing child, but Jeong initially denied the charges.
As police presented evidence to refute his alibi, the suspect relented and told police that he had dumped Wu’s body near Sihwa Lake in the vicinity of Anyang. A team was dispatched to the site, but the suspect later changed his statement, making it unclear where the victim might be found.
Oi Island on Gyeonggi’s west coast near Suwon and a stream near Sihwa Industrial Park were also named by the suspect as places where the body was dumped.
“It may take some time to find the second body because the suspect keeps changing his testimony,” said Kim Byeong-rok, of the Anyang police.
Although the suspect admitted to the crimes, he refused to give any further details of motive, police said. It was not known if he had an accomplice.
Jeong, who has a prior conviction for theft, has no record of sex crimes, Kim said. The suspect also has no history of treatment for mental disease.
Crime experts said it is unlikely that the case was a ransom-motivated kidnapping gone wrong. “Sexual crimes against children are often committed by a neighbor,” said Kim Won-bae, a crime analysts at the National Police Agency who has worked as an investigator for 34 years. “A ransom-motivated kidnapping is the opposite.”
Jeong lived 40 meters away from Wu’s house for the past five years.
With Jeong silent on his motive, it remains to be seen if the suspect killed the girls when they fought back during an attempted assault. No evidence of a sexual crime was found on Lee’s dismembered body, the police said.
“Jeong is a college graduate, and it is probably hard for him to accept that he kidnapped a child for rape,” said Pyo Chang-won, a criminal psychology professor at the Korea National Police University. “It is possible that he will never discuss his motive in order to protect his ego.”
Jeong reversed his initial denials after police officials proved that his alibi would not stand up. Police found traces of the two girls’ blood in a car rented by the suspect on the date the children went missing.
The suspect rented a car on Dec. 25, but he lied to police in an initial interview on Jan. 10, saying that he was home alone that day. After his capture, Jeong changed his story again, saying he worked as a substitute driver that night. Police said records showed that Jeong did not work on Dec. 25.
As police continued searching for her schoolmate, Lee’s funeral took place yesterday morning at Myeonghak Elementary School in Anyang. About 20 relatives and 900 students attended the ceremony.
“I can still remember your singing voice from the school talent show,” Jo Mi-ju, the victim’s best friend, said in her eulogy. “Hye-jin was a good singer, and she smiled a lot. You reminded us of a sunflower, and you will stay in our hearts forever.”


By Ser Myo-ja Staff Reporter/ Kang In-sik JoongAng Ilbo [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


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