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Incheon Kidnapper Arrested

Posted March. 16, 2007 07:06,   


The body of an elementary school student in Incheon was found four days after being kidnapped. The kidnapper was a father in his twenties who was pressed with debts. He was able to make threatening phone calls within 500 meters of the investigation headquarters without being caught, giving rise to criticism that the police were unprepared from the beginning.

The Incheon Yeonsu police station said on March 15 that a tow truck driver, Lee (28), who kidnapped and killed Park (8), a second-grader in Songdo-dong, Yeonsu-gu, was arrested and under investigation for crime particulars.

According to the police, Park was going out to buy a toy at a store in front of a Songdo-dong apartment shopping center at around 1:30 p.m. on March 11, when Lee kidnapped the boy by saying, “Show me the way to S high school because I don’t know the way,” and getting him into the tow truck.

When Lee found out the child’s parents’ jobs and home phone number from Park, he taped the boy’s mouth shut, bound his hands and feet, then put him in the back seat and drove around the neighborhood of the Namdong industrial complex at around 2:30 p.m.

At 2:45 p.m., Lee made a call to Park’s home from a phone booth in the industrial complex and threatened, “Give me 130 million won in cash.” He continued to make a total of 16 calls until noon on March 13.

Lee discovered at 11:30 p.m. on the way from Bucheon to Incheon that Park was dead, and discarded the body at 12:10 a.m. on March 12 at a reservoir in Gojan-dong, Namdong-gu.

The following day after Park’s death, Lee continued to make threatening calls to Park’s parents, playing a recording of Park’s voice before his death that said, “I miss you, dad. Dad, he said he’s going to take me home.”

Convicted three times before, Lee’s tow truck business went bust and he used his loans on sprees for a total debt of 130 million won. The police said that after a dispute with his wife (31) on March 9, Lee began planning the kidnapping to pay off his debts.

Lee confessed, “I thought that there would be a lot of rich people in Songdo-dong where the apartment prices skyrocketed recently, so I drove around and asked 4 or 5 kids for directions and Park just got into my truck without questions and I committed the crime.”

Park’s father (45) is a high school teacher and his mother (41) is an elementary school teacher, and he has one sister (12).

Police reports found that the kidnapper, who had an 11-month-old baby daughter, owned a 24-pyeong apartment, but had trouble getting ends to meet after the apartment was mortgaged for about one hundred million won in debts.

The police discovered Lee’s tow truck on a security camera installed in front of a pay phone in Cheonghak-dong, Yeonsu-gu, while tracing the threatening calls, and hunted down the owner of the vehicle before finally marking down Lee as a prime suspect on the noon of March 14.

The police arrested Lee at around 2:30 p.m., sleeping in his house with the tow truck parked outside on the road.

The first call that Lee made to Park’s home to notify his parents of the kidnapping was around 2:45 p.m. on March 11. But the police only dispatched officers from 7 surrounding police stations after the incident. The police only started to intercept and trace calls 6 hours after the first call, at 8:29 p.m.

On March 13, the police failed to arrest Lee after he made a call only 500 meters away from the investigation headquarters at the Yeonsu police station.

Authorized personnel explained, “The incident occurred on Sunday and we were not able to dispatch mass manpower in the beginning. It took some time to get an interception warrant and the telephone company to cooperate, and Lee hung up so quickly it was hard to trace the calls.”

Meanwhile, at the Incheon Red Cross Hospital funeral home, Park’s mother wailed, “I cannot bear to see my son’s portrait so get rid of it,” before falling unconscious.

kchwang@donga.com run-juno@donga.com