Six members of a religious group called “Soldiers of Christ” have been charged with killing a South Korean woman recently found dead in the trunk of a car, who authorities said was lured to the United States to join the religious group but was tortured and starved instead.
Joonhyun Lee, 22, Joonho Lee, 26, Hyunji Lee, 25, Eric Hyun, 26, Gawon Lee, 26, all from Lawrenceville, Georgia, are facing counts of of felony murder, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence, and concealing the death of another, authorities announced. An unidentified 15-year-old boy was also charged.
The body of the victim, whose name has not yet been released, was discovered on Tuesday, inside a vehicle parked outside of a Korean spa and sauna in Duluth. While her cause of death is still unknown, Gwinnett police in a statement said the medical examiner’s office “believes malnourishment could be a contributing factor.”
“Detectives believe the victim moved to the United States from South Korea sometime back in the summer of this year for the purpose of joining a religious organization,” it said.
Shortly thereafter, the starvation began. Police suspect she was likely stopped from eating sometime in August.
She weighed just 70 pounds when her body was found.
Amid their preliminary investigation, police learned Hyun was the driver of the car that contained the victim’s body. He parked the vehicle early Tuesday, then called a relative to pick him up. From there, they drove to an Atlanta-area hospital, where Hyun was treated for unrelated injuries. At one point, he ask his relative to get a personal item he left behind in the vehicle.
When the family member returned to the spa, they discovered the victim’s body inside and called 911.
All six suspects are being held without bond. Police noted that there does not appear to be any connection between the spa and the murder.