Police point to father’s friend in girl’s murder

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Police point to father’s friend in girl’s murder

Police confirmed that the female high school student whose body was found decomposing atop a steep hill in Gangjin County, South Jeolla, was murdered by her father’s friend, based on the results of a DNA test released on Friday.

The 16-year-old girl, whose name has not been disclosed, went missing on June 16 after telling a friend she was going to a nearby county because a friend of her father had found her a part-time job. Her naked corpse was discovered on June 24 after a week-long search, and police ordered a second autopsy after an initial postmortem proved inconclusive.

Several new pieces of evidence surfaced in the second autopsy that police say suggest the father’s friend, a 51-year-man surnamed Kim, as the killer. Kim committed suicide after the girl was reported missing the day after the murder.

Most notably, there were chemical traces of Zolpidem, a sleeping aid, found in the corpse’s blood, indicating Kim may have drugged the girl before killing her. Kim bought 28 sleeping aid pills from a local drugstore two days before the murder, claiming he was having trouble sleeping.

There was also alcohol found in the girl’s remains, though police aren’t sure whether the victim consumed alcohol before she was killed or whether it was produced endogenously during the decomposition process.

A hair clipper found by investigators in Kim’s house contained traces of the girl’s hair, and surveillance footage showed Kim taking the clipper with him as he left his house. The corpse’s hair had been removed when the police found it.

Investigators also found that the objects burned by Kim on the day of the murder were the girl’s clothes and backpack. Surveillance footage showed him burning the items.

Despite the new evidence, the cause of the girl’s death remains a mystery. Forensics specialists who performed the autopsy said that it was impossible to determine how the girl had died due to the decayed state of the corpse, which had been exposed to sunlight for over a week. Why she was killed is also not known.

The remains have been returned to the girl’s family and are to be cremated.

BY SHIM KYU-SEOK [shim.kyuseok@joongang.co.kr]
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