The beaten and malnourished woman whose 70-pound body was found in a car trunk this week in Georgia was also burned and then wrapped in a blanket by suspects who described themselves as “Soldiers of Christ,” according to court documents released Friday.
Five adults face multiple charges including felony murder, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealing the death of another. According to arrest warrant records released by the Gwinnett County Police Department on Friday, they also now face multiple felony street gang charges.
A 15-year-old has also been charged.
The South Korean woman in her 20s or 30s came to the U.S. this summer to join a religious group, police have said. She was found in a car trunk Tuesday night in front of a Korean spa in Duluth.
Eric Hyun, 26, of Suwanee, Georgia, and Gawom Lee, 26, Joonho Lee, 26, Juoonhyum Lee, 22, and Hyunji Lee, 25, all from Lawrenceville, Georgia, have been charged. They have said they belong to the “Soldiers of Christ,” police said in a statement.
Several suspects are siblings, police said.
Some of them appeared in court Friday in their first court appearance, according to the county clerk’s office. They were all being held without bail, authorities said.
Kenneth Sheppard, an attorney for Hyunji Lee, said Friday, his client would “request a preliminary hearing, and if the case is not indicted before the preliminary hearing, we will move forward with that event.” He declined further comment.
It was unclear Friday if other suspects had retained attorneys.
Arrest warrants indicate that the woman had been starved and beaten for weeks. Police believe she was tortured starting in early August; it was not clear when she died.
Police say “the crime took place” in the basement of a home in unincorporated Lawrenceville that is associated with Hyun.A neighbor described the residents of the home as “standoffish.”
“I knew who they were. They were a very standoffish family. They kept to themselves,” said the neighbor, who asked he only be identified as Kevin.
“I would pass them on the street, walking, and they wouldn’t even look at me. They were that kind of neighbor.”
The neighbor said about 10 detectives and a “whole bunch of cops” swarmed the neighbor’s home Wednesday and were there from about 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m.
“It’s unsettling. You never know what’s going on behind doors and garages,” he said. “I’m glad they didn’t interact back. I could have been invited in to do whatever they want to me.