Landlord faces murder charge in girl’s killing

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Landlord faces murder charge in girl’s killing

The prosecution said Tuesday that it had determined that the principal killer of a young girl whose body was secretly buried on a mountain and discovered years later was the landlord of the house in which the girl was living and will move to indict the suspect.

Authorities began their investigation in February, after the body of a 7-year-old girl buried more than four years ago, allegedly by her mother, was found on a mountain in Gwangju, Gyeonggi.

The mother told the police that she had physically abused her daughter and later hid the body with the help of three accomplices when she found the girl dead one day in October 2011.

The mother, surnamed Park, was indicted on child abuse and manslaughter charges. However, a murder charge went to the owner of the house where Park and her two daughters were living at the time of the girl’s death, a 45-year-old woman surnamed Lee.

Park’s friend, surnamed Baek, was also indicted with abandoning a corpse and violating the Child Welfare Act.

Lee’s sister and Baek’s mother, both living at Lee’s apartment at the time, were indicted with abandoning a corpse and violating the Child Welfare Act, respectively.

In its investigation, the prosecution found that Park and Lee, the owner of the apartment, had hit the 7-year-old girl with sticks one to three times a week from July to October 2011, each time hitting the girl 10 to as many as 100 times. The girl was often locked on the balcony of the apartment as well.

According to the prosecution, the girl was fed just once a day for 10 days before her death.

“The girl is thinking of killing everyone [living with her], so discipline her well,” Lee told Park on Oct. 26, 2011, according to prosecution. Park is alleged to have hit her daughter with a stick for 30 minutes, tied her to a chair, taped her mouth and then gone to work at 11 a.m. that day.

Prosecutors said that even after Park went to work, Lee continued to abuse the girl as she was tied to the chair. The girl allegedly screamed twice and subsequently went into shock.

Lee reportedly did not call an ambulance for fear of being found out; she has been charged with murder by nonfeasance.

“We find the cause of death to be long-term physical abuse and starvation imposed by Lee and Park,” said Hong Hyun-joon, a prosecutor at the Tongyeong branch of the Changwon District Prosecutors’ Office. “Lee’s fault in not acting to save the girl after she went into shock is a greater [offense].”

When the mother found her daughter dead after coming back from work that day, she had three accomplices help her bury the girl in secret, she said. Park’s friend Baek, Lee, and Lee’s sister drove with Park for two days, with the corpse packed inside a snowboarding bag, to bury her on a mountain in Gwangju, Gyeonggi.

Baek’s mother was also charged with violating the Child Welfare Act for locking the girl on the balcony.

BY WEE SUNG-WOOK [chung.juhee@joongang.co.kr]

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