Suspect: Girl killed on abduction night

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Suspect: Girl killed on abduction night

The prime suspect in the recent rape and killing of a teenage girl in Busan has confessed that he killed the victim on the night of her kidnapping, local police said yesterday. Convicted rapist Kim Kil-tae, 33, has been in Busan Police’s custody since Wednesday for the death of Lee Yu-ri, 13.

“?‘Although I was too drunk to remember the details, I think I killed Lee by covering her mouth with my hand during the rape to stop her from screaming,’?” Kim Hee-ung, the chief of the Sasang Police Precinct of Busan, quoted the suspect as saying.

“We concluded that Kim had kidnapped the victim on the night of Feb. 24, sometime between 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. and took her to an empty house near Lee’s home,” said Kim, the Sasang police chief. “He raped and killed her that night and dumped the body after midnight.”

The suspect said he had consumed up to five bottles of soju - Korean hard liquor - and he could not remember the details of the kidnapping, police said. They also said an eye witness has told them she saw the suspect dispose of the body on Feb. 25. Police found the 51-year-old homemaker during their investigation on Sunday.

“I saw him putting something into the water tank, but I have a daughter’s wedding drawing near and I was too scared of revenge to come forward and report it to police,” the witness was quoted as saying.

Police also found a pair of gloves and a hooded jumper believed to be worn by Kim at the time of the crime. Investigators said Kim admits to having worn the items. Police sent the evidence to the National Institute of Scientific Investigation for forensic examinations. Police said they will conduct reenactments at the crime scenes today after questioning the suspect further to elicit more details.

Questions, however, linger.

While the police said Kim killed the victim on the night of the kidnapping, the method does not match that of his past crimes. In 2001 and in January, Kim held his rape victims as hostages for up to nine days but did not kill them. Because of the pattern, police initially believed that Lee may have been alive during the early stage of their probe.

“While his two past victims were older, the latest victim is young, and she probably screamed recklessly,” an investigator said. “That probably made Kim panic and kill her.”

It also remains unclear how Kim was able to abduct the victim from her house. While he confessed in detail about the body dumping, he told the police that he was too drunk to remember other parts of the crime.

“We believe he was extremely intoxicated and probably nearly unconscious at the time of his crime,” a senior police official said. But it remains to be answered, how Kim, too drunk to remember his crime, had managed to enter the house, kidnap the victim and take her to an empty house while hiding from view. Kim’s body dumping, which took place only hours after the killing, was meticulously carried out. The suspect placed cement and tile on top of the body placed inside the water tank.

Some critics said Kim might be giving false statements in order to lessen his potential sentence. If Kim is convicted of rape and involuntary manslaughter, he will be punished with more than 10 years of imprisonment or a life sentence. A conviction of rape and murder, however, is punishable by a life sentence or the death penalty. “Investigative authorities will present a lot of evidence to disprove Kim’s possible claim that he killed the victim unintentionally,” said a judge. “Judges are also no longer showing leniency toward crimes committed under the influence of alcohol.”


By Kim Sang-jin, Song Ji-hye [myoja@joongang.co.kr]

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