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Church member indicted for murder in death of 17-year-old

June 12, 2024 - 17:03 By Yoon Min-sik

Police officers escort a member of a local church accused of murdering 17-year-old girl at the Incheon District Court on May 18, 2024. (Newsis)

A member of a local church has been arrested and indicted for the abuse and murder of a 17-year-old girl, the Incheon District Prosecutors' Office said Wednesday.

The 55-year-old suspect initially faced child abuse resulting in death, but the prosecution altered the charge to child abuse and murder after an additional investigation it conducted since taking the case from police on May 24. Child abuse and murder can be punished by at least seven years in prison, and up to a death sentence by law, though no capital punishment has been carried out in over 25 years.

The prosecution said that the suspect murdered the victim by leaving the fatally injured girl unattended at an Incheon church after subjecting her to months of abuse and captivity.

The suspect is believed to have abused the underage victim between March and May, which led to her death on May 15. Police officers who arrived on the scene found the victim on the floor of a room inside the church with both her hands bound and bruises covering her body.

Two other suspects, a 52-year-old leader of the church choir and a 41-year-old choir member, have also been arrested for their alleged part in the abuse. They are currently being investigated on charges of child abuse resulting in death.

It was found that the victim's mother entrusted her to the 55-year-old suspect, with whom she had been acquainted, and the girl had been living at the church for nearly three months leading up to her death.

All three suspects have denied abusing the victim, and claimed that restraints on her hands were to stop her from injuring herself.