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4 Teens Arrested for Disabled Girl’s Murder

Posted March. 23, 2009 03:20,   


A 17-year-old mentally disabled girl was killed after being beaten almost daily over 21 days by four teens who lived with her, police said yesterday.

Seongnam police requested an arrest warrant for the four teenagers on suspicion of assault and homicide yesterday.

They allegedly tied the victim, identified only as Yoo, to a chair for two to three hours and dropped a knife with the blade facing down or poked her with needles under the guise of giving her a tattoo. They also confessed to whipping her with a jump rope.

Wednesday night, Yoo was beaten for “cheating with another man.” She lost consciousness after being burned with metal spoons and chopsticks that were heated up in a microwave oven.

The four teens left Yoo and told her not to play sick. They found her dead Thursday.

Once Yoo’s friends, the four suspects put rope around her corpse and wrapped it in a bed sheet. They buried her at a nearby mountain 1.7 kilometers away from the scene of her murder.

After her parents divorced when she was five, Yoo did not receive adequate care for her disability. She was raised by her 48-year-old father, who a bad credit history and barely made a living as a manual laborer. His constant unemployed status and the absence of Yoo’s younger sister due to her running away caused Yoo repeatedly to leave home and come back.

She calmed down when she met “Lee,” one of her assaulters, via an online chat room. Touched by his kind words, she met him in person in July 2007.

Yoo was reportedly able to express her thoughts and chat online despite her mental disability.

“Kang,” a friend of Lee, invited Lee, another friend “Kim” and Kim’s sister to his house in Seongnam, Gyeonggi Province, after he was left alone in the wake of his father’s death. The four teenagers moved in together last year, and Lee invited Yoo to join them in January.

“I thought they were just hanging around. I had no idea such an atrocity was being committed in the house,” a neighbor said. Kang’s house is in a residential area with many houses huddled together.

Lee began to suspect that Yoo was cheating on him with Kim. After Kim told Lee that Yoo approached him first, Lee began beating Yoo Feb. 26. When Yoo tried to return home March 14 to Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi Province, Kang and Kim followed her and pushed her father away when he tried to keep his daughter at home.

Yoo was then brought back to Kang’s house.

Police said the four teens may have been after Yoo’s monthly disability subsidy of 400,000 to one million won (280 to 711 U.S. dollars). A day after Yoo’s death and her secret burial, Lee and his friends wore masks, hats and gloves to an ATM and withdrew 380,000 won (270 dollars) with Yoo’s debit card.

The four teens are known to have lived off Yoo’s subsidy since she began living with them in January, so police are tracking down where the money was spent.

argus@donga.com ryu@donga.com