A woman found dead in the trunk of a car earlier this week is believed to have been lured to the United States from South Korea to join a religious organization, then tortured in the basement of a Georgia home, police said .
Six people, including a 15-year-old boy, have been arrested and charged with murder in connection with the woman’s death, Gwinnett County police announced Thursday.
The victim, believed to be between 20 and 35 years old, allegedly moved to the United States over the summer to join what the suspects called the “Soldiers of Christ,” police said.
“Apparently the victim was beaten and malnourished, which then led to what the medical examiner’s office believes was the cause of his death,” said Cpl. Juan Madiedo, a spokesman for the Gwinnett County Police Department, said during a press briefing Thursday.
Police believe the victim starved for several weeks and died in late August. She weighed about 70 pounds when she was found Tuesday, police said. His body was also burned and wrapped in a blanket, according to arrest warrants.
The exact cause of death is still under investigation.
A relative of one of the suspects found his body in the trunk of a car parked in a Duluth shopping center parking lot Tuesday evening and called 911, police said. The suspect – Eric Hyun, 26 – allegedly asked the family member to retrieve an item for him from the car while he was in the hospital with unspecified injuries, police said.
The ensuing investigation led detectives to a home associated with Hyun in Lawrenceville, where evidence of the beating was found in the basement, police said.
In addition to Hyun, four other adults: Gawom Lee, 26; Joonho Lee, 26; Juoonhyum Lee, 22; and Hyunji Lee, 25 – and a 15-year-old were arrested and charged with murder, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealing the death of another, police said.
Police said Friday that they also obtained multiple criminal street gang warrants for each of the suspects.
Georgia law describes a criminal street gang as “any organization, association or group of three or more persons associated in fact, formal or informal, who engage in criminal gang activity,” police said.
A court-appointed attorney for Joonho Lee told ABC News he had no comment at this time.
Hyunji Lee’s court-appointed attorney, Kenneth Sheppard, told ABC News he will request a preliminary hearing and plans to move forward if she is not charged before that event.
ABC News has reached out to Gawom Lee’s attorney for comment.
Online court records did not contain any information about lawyers for Hyun and Juoonhyum Lee.
Three of the suspects are brothers, while Hyunji Lee is the girlfriend of one of the suspects, Madiedo said. All live in the house except Hyun, who once lived there, Madiedo said.
Detectives do not believe there are any other victims or suspects, Madiedo said.
The victim has not been publicly identified by police, who said Thursday that his family in South Korea had not yet been informed of his death.