Prosecutors plan to redo probe in girl’s rape, killing

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Prosecutors plan to redo probe in girl’s rape, killing

Police in Busan said yesterday they cannot confirm exactly when 13-year-old schoolgirl Lee Yu-ri died, though they pressed charges of rape and murder against their prime suspect.

“We think that the killing took place sometime between 7:07 p.m. on Feb. 24, when Lee went missing, and 5 a.m. the following day,” said officer Kim Young-sik, who headed the investigation, as police at the Sasang Police Precinct in Busan concluded their probe.

“But the National Institute of Scientific Investigation said that even with an autopsy it can’t verify the time of death, because the corpse was so severely decayed.”

The officer said there will be no difficulty pressing the charges because 33-year-old Kim Kil-tae has confessed to killing the girl, although he told police he was too drunk to remember the details.

Police still do not know whether Kim was really drunk or was simply claiming it to hide premeditation, or any details about how Lee was kidnapped. It also remains unclear how Kim managed to enter Lee’s home and spirit her to an empty house without being spotted.

During early interrogations, Kim had admitted only to dumping Lee’s body, and said he was too drunk to remember details of the abduction, rape, and murder. The officer said police based the charges on Kim’s later confession, as well as DNA evidence left on the girl, the suspect’s fingerprints found at her home, and other evidence.

Investigators said that today they will file their report with prosecutors, who will decide whether to indict Kim and if so on what charges.

Prosecutors said they plan to carry out their own probe to discover physical evidence that Kim kidnapped, raped and killed Lee.

The Supreme Prosecutors’ Office said yesterday that it is going to pick four prosecutors from the Busan District Prosecutors’ Office with extensive experience in conducting scientific investigations to examine the case thoroughly.

Prosecutor General Kim Joon-gyu has ordered prosecutors to do whatever it takes to find out the truth of the case, and investigators in that office said they expect to receive assistance from psychological profilers while carrying out the investigations.

Lee Yu-ri was killed after the two-time convicted rapist allegedly snuck into her house between 7:07 p.m. and 8:50 p.m. on Feb. 24, according to police.

The suspect then allegedly took Lee to an empty house some 140 meters (459 feet) away and raped her.

Kim Young-sik, the lead investigator, said police believe Kim Kil-tae strangled Lee to death in order to stop her from screaming and resisting his assault.

After her murder, Kim allegedly bound Lee’s hands and feet with red cords and tried to stuff her in a bag, wrapped her clothing and shoes in a plastic bag, and hid her body in a water tank some 39 meters away from the murder scene, covering it with limestone powder. The suspect then fled, the officer said.

On Feb. 25, hours after Lee is believed to have been killed, police said Kim’s guilt and anxiety prompted him to make 21 phone calls to friends between 7:58 a.m. and 1:06 p.m.


By Kim Sang-jin, Lim Ju-ree [smartpower@joongang.co.kr]

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