Suspect held in killings of masseuses, elderlyPolice said yesterday they had arrested a 33-year-old jobless man who had confessed to an 11-month-long series of brutal murders that targeted affluent senior citizens and young women who worked for massage parlors.
The suspect, Yoo Yeong-cheol, said he killed as many as 19 people because he hated women and the wealthy, the police reported.
“We are currently investigating Mr. Yoo on murder charges that include killings of 11 masseuses and two university professors,” Huh Joon-young, the head of the Seoul Metropolitan Police said yesterday. Mr. Huh then detailed the murders Mr. Yoo committed.
On Sept. 24, Mr. Yoo broke into the southern Seoul residence in Sinsa-dong of a married couple, who were university professors. Police said he admitted bludgeoning them in the head with a hammer. Sixteen days later, Mr. Yoo entered a home in Seoul’s Gugi-dong and killed three elderly people there, again using a hammer.
In November, he snuck into two houses in Samseong-dong and Hyehwa-dong and killed several elderly inside. Mr. Yoo targeted luxury homes inhabited by the elderly.
In the Hyehwa-dong case, he set a fire to destroy evidence of the killing.
Police said that in all the cases, Mr. Yoo made the crime appear to be a robbery-homicide, though he took no money. Police said they had been confused by the perpetrator’s actions.
As an investigation into the killings intensified, Mr. Yoo ended the spree and stayed in an office-residence building in western Seoul, police said. Beginning in March, police said, Mr. Yoo called 11 masseuses to his residence and killed them.
To hide the crimes, he cut up the masseuses’ bodies, stuffed them into plastic bags and buried them in several locations in the mountains around the city. He tore off the victims' finger tips so there would be no prints to identify them, police said.
Police arrested Mr. Yoo Thursday as he was about to commit another murder at a Seoul motel. They were able to catch him thanks to the report from the owner of the massage parlor who thought it suspicious that a number of his employees had gone missing after particular phone calls. Mr. Yoo made a call Thursday seeking a masseuse and police traced the call to him.
After he was taken into custody, Mr. Yoo escaped on Friday. He feigned epileptic symptoms and police officers freed his restraints. He exploited the moment and fled. Twelve hours later, however, he was arrested again.
He is said to have confessed to 19 killings on Saturday. Police are expanding their investigation of the case because the suspect admitted to other killings in Incheon and Busan.
“Mr. Yoo thought that the reason he lived a miserable life was because of the rich,” said Mr. Huh. “After divorcing his wife who was a masseuse, he shifted targets to women who had the same job.”
Mr. Yoo has been convicted 14 times previously of robbery, rape, violence and fraud. He served a total of seven years for the crimes.
In 1992, he married a masseuse, identified as Ms. Hwang, and has one son. In 2002, when he was serving time for a rape conviction, he was told his wife had divorced him. He was released in December 2002 and afterward started dating a woman, but she left him when she learned of his criminal background.
by Ko Dae-hoon, Min Seong-jae