'Prime suspect's DNA matches sample from evidence in serial killing' - The Korea Times

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'Prime suspect's DNA matches sample from evidence in serial killing'

By Kim Jae-heun

Police confirmed Thursday that DNA evidence appears to have identified the perpetrator of the nation's worst unsolved case of serial murders that took place in the 1980s, although the statute of limitations on the crimes has expired, meaning the man will not be charged.

According to the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, DNA samples found in evidence collected from the fifth, seventh and ninth murders matched that of the new prime suspect surnamed Lee, 56, who has been behind bars for decades after being found guilty in another murder case.

However, during recent questioning at Busan Detention Center, Lee denied that he committed the murders. He has been imprisoned there since 1994 after receiving a life sentence for drugging and raping his sister-in-law before killing her and disposing of her body.

Police said they were in the preliminary stages of ascertaining the veracity of the DNA evidence, refusing to comment on the details of their current investigation of the case.

"We don't have much to confirm at this stage," Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency Superintendent General Ban Ki-soo said during a press briefing. "The news has been reported about the DNA match so we had to hold a press conference. What we can confirm now is that we requested DNA testing on July 15 and we were informed that Lee's DNA was a match to that on the samples we sent."

Ban said that while the statute of limitations for the last of the murders expired in April 2006, police have been looking into other unsolved cases as new DNA profiling techniques have made identification of old samples possible.

The superintendent general said officers will continue their investigation, adding that evidence from the six other murders in the case has been sent to the National Forensic Service to verify any link with Lee.

The notorious cold case involved the rape and murder of nine women and girls aged between 13 and 71 from Sept. 15 in 1986 to April 3 in 1991 in rural areas near Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.

There were 10 murders with similar methods of killing, but it was found that one, in 1988, the eighth overall of the 10, was a copycat crime by another man who was caught and confirmed to be unconnected to the nine other murders.

More than 2 million police officers were mobilized at the time and they questioned 21,280 people, the largest number for a single case, which was later made into the film "Memories of Murder" by director Bong Joon-ho, illustrating how the serial murders affected the public consciousness.

Lee has been imprisoned for over 20 years in Busan and prison guards and other inmates were reportedly surprised to find that he was the prime suspect in one of the country's worst serial murder cases. According to them, he was a model prisoner.

Prison guards said Lee, a quiet man, has never broken a rule or caused any problems over the last 24 years. His family members and friends come to the prison to see him a couple of times a year, they said.

If Lee were not serving a life sentence, he could have been possibly freed on parole.


By Kim Jae-heun

Police confirmed Thursday that DNA evidence appears to have identified the perpetrator of the nation's worst unsolved case of serial murders that took place in the 1980s, although the statute of limitations on the crimes has expired, meaning the man will not be charged.

According to the Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency, DNA samples found in evidence collected from the fifth, seventh and ninth murders matched that of the new prime suspect surnamed Lee, 56, who has been behind bars for decades after being found guilty in another murder case.

However, during recent questioning at Busan Detention Center, Lee denied that he committed the murders. He has been imprisoned there since 1994 after receiving a life sentence for drugging and raping his sister-in-law before killing her and disposing of her body.

Police said they were in the preliminary stages of ascertaining the veracity of the DNA evidence, refusing to comment on the details of their current investigation of the case.

"We don't have much to confirm at this stage," Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency Superintendent General Ban Ki-soo said during a press briefing. "The news has been reported about the DNA match so we had to hold a press conference. What we can confirm now is that we requested DNA testing on July 15 and we were informed that Lee's DNA was a match to that on the samples we sent."

Ban said that while the statute of limitations for the last of the murders expired in April 2006, police have been looking into other unsolved cases as new DNA profiling techniques have made identification of old samples possible.

The superintendent general said officers will continue their investigation, adding that evidence from the six other murders in the case has been sent to the National Forensic Service to verify any link with Lee.

The notorious cold case involved the rape and murder of nine women and girls aged between 13 and 71 from Sept. 15 in 1986 to April 3 in 1991 in rural areas near Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province.

There were 10 murders with similar methods of killing, but it was found that one, in 1988, the eighth overall of the 10, was a copycat crime by another man who was caught and confirmed to be unconnected to the nine other murders.

More than 2 million police officers were mobilized at the time and they questioned 21,280 people, the largest number for a single case, which was later made into the film "Memories of Murder" by director Bong Joon-ho, illustrating how the serial murders affected the public consciousness.

Lee has been imprisoned for over 20 years in Busan and prison guards and other inmates were reportedly surprised to find that he was the prime suspect in one of the country's worst serial murder cases. According to them, he was a model prisoner.

Prison guards said Lee, a quiet man, has never broken a rule or caused any problems over the last 24 years. His family members and friends come to the prison to see him a couple of times a year, they said.

If Lee were not serving a life sentence, he could have been possibly freed on parole.


Kim Jae-heun jhkim@koreatimes.co.kr


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