Police vow to crack cold case of serial rape-murder from 1980s, after DNA identifies suspect

Police have vowed to crack a cold case of serial rape and murder from more than 30 years ago, with a prime suspect identified in via DNA testing. Police said the suspect denied the allegations in the first round of questioning.

Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency said in a press briefing Thursday morning that DNA from the suspect and from at least three of the serial rape-murders were found to match through a forensics analysis.

Police said a man surnamed Lee, in his 50s, has been identified as a suspect in 10 rape-murders spanning 1986 to 1991, in Hwaseong, Gyeonggi Province. The suspect is currently serving a life term for the 1994 rape, murder and body disposal of his sister-in-law.

While the statute of limitations on the last of the 10 murders expired in April 2006, police say they will consider releasing the suspect’s identity in light of the gravity of the crimes.

Gyeonggi Nambu Provincial Police Agency Superintendent General Ban Ki-soo speaks during a press briefing Thursday morning. (Kim Arin/The Korea Herald)

Police agency Chief Bae Yong-ju said regardless of the suspect’s punishment, police have the “grave responsibility to reveal the truth for victims and their families, and for the people’s right to know.”

Ban Ki-soo, the agency’s superintendent general who is leading the probe, said police reopened the case after a new DNA profiling technique made possible identification of old samples. On July 15, the cold case team at the police agency filed a request with the National Forensic Service for a test of a DNA sample found on two victims’ underwear collected at the scene of the crimes.

At least 10 women, whose ages ranged from their early teens to those in their 70s, were killed in the six-year crime spree in the rural city south of Seoul.

The suspect’s identification comes 33 years after the first case emerged on Sept. 15, 1986, with the death of a 71-year-old woman surnamed Lee.

By Kim Arin (arin@heraldcorp.com)

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