Police arrest murder suspect’s wife after return from New Zealand

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Police arrest murder suspect’s wife after return from New Zealand

The wife of the man wanted for killing three relatives, including his own mother, returned to Korea on Wednesday, having left for New Zealand with her husband after he allegedly committed the murders in Korea on Oct. 21.

Police reported on Thursday that the wife said she had “absolutely no knowledge” of the murders of her in-laws. Police from Yongin, Gyeonggi, began questioning the 32-year-old wife, surnamed Jeong, since she arrived at Incheon International Airport with her two young daughters on Wednesday night. The wife said she returned after being persuaded by family members.

Though the wife claimed ignorance to the crime, saying she only learned of the murders when she was arrested upon her return to Korea, a few findings led police to doubt the veracity of her claim. For example, Jeong resided in the same condominium with her husband in the days preceding the murder and had conversations with her husband that seemed to imply her knowledge of the crime.

Police also noted that she agreed to follow her husband to New Zealand when he came back with a massive sum of money, including 80 million won ($71,800) that he took from his mother’s bank account. The husband did not have a regular source of income and usually lived off his relatives.

A police source said, “We are not ruling out the possibility that Jeong didn’t have any knowledge of [her husband] Kim’s crime,” but added, “Findings from the investigation made it difficult for us to believe that she had no knowledge, so we are looking into the possibility of her being a conspirator to the crime.”

Authorities are now checking whether they can charge Jeong for crimes related to murder.

Jeong’s 35-year-old husband is facing charges for the murder of his 55-year-old mother and 14-year-old half-brother, and for the murder of his 57-year-old stepfather and abandonment of the corpse. Two days after the crime, Kim, Jeong and their two daughters left for New Zealand.

On Wednesday, the North Shore District Court in Auckland, New Zealand, issued an arrest warrant for Kim upon request by Korea. Kim may be detained in New Zealand for up to 45 days under the current extradition treaty between the two countries.

BY LEE MIN-JUNG, KIM EUN-JIN [kim.eunjin1@joongang.co.kr]
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