Married cop held in death of girlfriend

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Married cop held in death of girlfriend

The Gunsan Police Precinct in North Jeolla yesterday sought a warrant to detain a 40-year-old officer surnamed Jeong for killing his 39-year-old girlfriend surnamed Lee who had blackmailed the officer by claiming she was pregnant.

Jeong allegedly strangled Lee while they were arguing about ending their relationship in Jeong’s car about 8:30 p.m. July 24. Before they met that day, the victim told Jeong several times that she needed money because she was pregnant. Jeong gave her 3 million won ($2,667) in the car and said he did not want to see her again. Lee refused, saying she would tell Jeong’s wife about their relationship if he didn’t give her more money. As she took out her smartphone and acted like she was going to call Jeong’s wife, the officer tried to take the phone away. The fight intensified, ending with Jeong choking her.

“I realized she wasn’t breathing about two minutes after [I started choking her],” Jeong said during questioning, admitting to murder and abandoning the victim’s body. “I took off her clothes so the body could decompose quickly. I was afraid that my relationship with Lee and the unborn baby would break up my family.”

However, the Jeonbuk Police Provincial Agency said on Saturday that the National Forensic Service conducted an autopsy on Lee and found no signs of pregnancy, though it was impossible to know whether she was in the early stages of pregnancy because her body was so decomposed.

Police also found a text message sent from the victim to one of her friends, which read, “I had the decorators on July 11.”

On July 25, the family of the victim reported to police that Lee was missing, identifying Jeong as the prime suspect. Police questioned Jeong that day, but sent him home due to lack of evidence.

He had been moving around Gangwon, Jecheon in North Chungcheong; Daejeon, Jeonju in North Jeolla; and Nonsan in South Chungcheong for more than a week, but was arrested at a PC game room in Nonsan, South Chungcheong, about 6:10 p.m. Friday.

Choi Jeong-seon, chief of the Gunsan Police Precinct, was relieved of his command on Saturday for mismanaging his staff. “It is a crime that occurred because of an incumbent police officer’s lack of morality, but Choi is responsible for his failure in managing his own staff properly,” Jeonbuk Provincial Police Agency said in a press release.

BY KWON SANG-SOO [sakwon80@joongang.co.kr]

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