Suspect’s father: ‘Turn yourself in’

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Suspect’s father: ‘Turn yourself in’

BUSAN - The 70-year-old adoptive father of the man suspected of raping and killing a 13-year-old girl is calling for him to turn himself in.

“I want to sit you down and ask you why you did such a brutal thing to such a young girl. My son, I beg you to turn yourself in,” said Kim Jong-dae, the father of 33-year-old Kim Kil-tae.

Police have tied the suspect’s DNA to the death of Lee Yu-ri, whose body was found Saturday in a water tank near her home. The elderly man was clearly distraught by the crime that has shaken the nation.

“I just drank a cup of soju,” said Kim, as he lighted one of many cigarettes during an interview at his home on Monday.

Kim said he adopted Kim Kil-tae when he was 2 years old. “I only had three daughters, and my wife wanted a son. We adopted him through a church.”

He said the suspect was a cheerful child and had many friends.

“I sent him to a vocational high school because I thought he could make ends meet in that way,” Kim said.

It was there, during the second year of high school, that his son began to change. The boy, who had once been good at calculation using an abacus, began skipping classes and suddenly became uncommunicative.

His mother, 68, did not give up.

“I rode a bus with him and took him to the school,” she said. “I sometimes lied to his teachers that he was sick to make up for his absences.”

Soon, her son quit school. A year later, he was indicted on charges of assault, and a local court handed down a 10-month suspended sentence. That was the beginning of a long prison record for Kim Kil-tae, including two convictions for sex crimes.

At his home, with tears in his eyes, his father opened a desk drawer, showing off receipts for outside foods he’d sent while his son was in prison. When his son was serving an eight-year term for his second sex crime in 2007, the father sent five loaves of bread and five packs of milk to comfort him. Money he saved working at construction sites was also sent to the prison.

“Kil-tae held my hands when he got out of the prison last summer,” Kim said. “He said we should be able to do well this time.”

In a letter sent to his parents from the Anyang Prison in 2008, the suspect wrote that he was sorry for not being with them on New Year’s Day.

“I am a bad son, but someday I will try to live a happy life with you,” he wrote.

“We are sorry,” for the loss of the victim, and for her family, Kim Jong-dae said repeatedly.

“I know it will sound strange, but Kil-tae is still my son, and I also feel brokenhearted.”

By Kim Sang-jin []
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