Six people, including a 15-year-old, who said they were members of a religious group called “Soldiers of Christ” were arrested after police said they discovered the remains of a woman who had been beaten and starved.
Eric Hyun, 26, Gawom Lee, 26, Joonho Lee, 26, Juoonhyum Lee, 22, Hyunji Lee, 25, and the teenager are suspected of kidnapping, tampering with evidence, concealing the death of ‘others and murder after the woman was killed. discovered in the trunk of a car parked outside a spa Tuesday evening, police in Gwinnett County, Georgia, said Thursday.
Speaking at a press conference, Cpl. Juan Madiedo said detectives believe the woman was between 20 and 35 years old and had come to the United States from South Korea over the summer to join the group. Authorities have not released his name as they attempt to contact his family for the first time.
Madiedo said she weighed only 70 pounds, adding that medical examiners believed malnutrition contributed to her death.
Detectives believe Hyun parked the car that contained the woman’s body in the parking lot earlier in the day, then called a family member to come pick him up and take him to an Atlanta-area hospital to treat injuries unrelated to the death, Madiedo said. When the family member returned to the car to retrieve a personal item, he looked in the trunk and called 911, authorities said.
According to Hyun’s arrest warrant, the woman’s body was burned and wrapped in a blanket before being placed in the trunk.
Madiedo added that investigators believe the woman’s body had been in the car for a few days.
Authorities then searched a home in Lawrenceville owned by the Lees and where they said Hyun had previously visited and lived. The suspects have “family ties,” police said.
“We believe that it was in the basement of the place where these individuals beat and kept the victim until his death,” Madiedo said.
Authorities added that they believe the woman suffered beatings and was malnourished for weeks before her death. Madiedo said investigators do not believe she was sexually assaulted.
Due to their shared religious affiliation, the suspects also face charges accusing them of being associated with a criminal gang.
It is unclear whether or not they are represented by lawyers. The Gwinnett County Prosecutor’s Office said a court date has not yet been set.