|Reporters ask a murder suspect questions as he leave the police station in Michuhol-gu, Incheon, Sunday, for interrogation at the Incheon District Court. / Yonhap|
By Kim Jae-heun
A 26-year-old man has been arrested on suspicion of beating his five-year-old stepson to death, according to police. The alleged murder took place only a month after the boy was brought home from a child protection center, where he had stayed following the stepfather's beating and abuse two years earlier.
The man allegedly tied the stepson's hands and feet with cables and beat him for 25 hours at his home in Incheon from Wednesday to Thursday, using a meter-long wooden sword, according to Incheon Metropolitan Police Agency, Sunday.
He reported to police on Thursday evening that the boy had collapsed and was not breathing. When the police and rescue officers arrived, the boy was unconscious and had no pulse. They found bruises all over his body.
An autopsy conducted by the National Forensic Service confirmed that the boy had died from an abdominal injury.
The man told police that he assaulted his son as punishment for lying and misbehaving.
The police initially detained him on suspicion of child abuse resulting in death, but later changed the suspicions to murder, believing the stepfather could predict the boy would die if he kept beating him.
It was found the man had been given a suspended jail term two years ago for child abuse as he had beaten the stepson, who was three years old at the time, and his younger brother, who was two years old.
The boy's mother was at home when the beating took place. She told police she could not report the man to police as he beat her and threatened to kill the other boy if she contacted the authorities.
According to police and court documents at the time, the stepfather beat the older son, leaving bruises on his face and neck on Jan. 13, 2017, and left him at home without taking him to hospital for medical treatment.
He also picked the boy up by his leg and threw him to the ground in March that year and beat the younger boy as well.
The two boys were sent to a child protection center, and the stepfather was put on trial for various charges such as child abuse and child neglect. In April last year, he was sentenced to a one-year jail term suspended for three years.
The two boys were doing well in the center but the stepfather came to the protection agency to get them back. The center refused initially but let him take the boys last month after he kept insisting.
The police said they cannot reveal the exact date when the boys were brought back or the reason he took them back home, saying they are still investigating.