Police in a small city outside Atlanta have uncovered a grim murder allegedly tied to a religious organization called the “Soldiers of Christ.”
Five adults and a 15-year-old juvenile were arrested in Duluth, Georgia after a dead body was discovered stuffed inside the trunk of a car.
The body belonged to a woman who weighed approximately 70 pounds when she was found and police believe she had been “subjected to beatings and malnourishment for weeks,” according to a press release from the Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office.
Eric Hyun, 26; Gawom Lee, 26; Joonho Lee, 26; Juoonhyum Lee, 22; Hyunji Lee, 25, and a 15-year-old were arrested Thursday and face charges of felony murder, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealing the death of another. All are being held without bond.
“The accused individuals referred to themselves as belonging to ‘Soldiers of Christ,'” police wrote.
During their investigation, police learned that the female victim had moved from South Korea to the U.S. during the summer of 2023 “for the purpose of joining a religious organization.”
It’s unclear if the victim was a part of the Soldiers of Christ.
A family member of Hyun, one of the accused, is the person who discovered the victim’s body inside the car and called 911.
Police believe Hyun drove the vehicle to Jeju, a popular Korean spa and sauna in the area, and parked it there before calling a family member to pick him up. The family member drove Hyun to a nearby hospital “due to unrelated injuries.”
While in the hospital, Hyun asked the relative to go back to the car and grab a personal item for him. When the family member searched the car for the item, they found the dead body in the trunk.
News release: Detectives are investigating a person found deceased inside a vehicle.
On September 12, at approximately 10:50 p.m., officers assigned to Central Precinct responded to 3555 Gwinnett Place Dr in unincorporated Duluth in reference to a suspicious activity call. pic.twitter.com/wnJWMnHhje
— Gwinnett County Police (@GwinnettPd) September 13, 2023
Police obtained a search warrant for a home associated with Hyun. They believe that the basement of 2415 Stable Gate is “where the crime took place.”
Photos of the alleged crime scene and the five adult suspects were released by police on Facebook.
According to arrest warrants obtained by the Associated Press, police believe the victim’s starvation began on Aug. 3. It’s unclear when she died.
Her family is from South Korea and “death notifications have not yet been made,” police said Thursday.
At a news conference Thursday, authorities said the spa where the vehicle containing the body was parked does not appear to be involved in the incident.
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