July 18, 2004 17:12
Seoul police arrested 33-year-old Yoo Young-chul of Gongdeok-dong, Mapo-gu, Seoul on Sunday as a suspect in the serial murder of 19 people, including a 73-year old Sookmyung University professor and his wife and a 24-year-old massage parlor employee, since the latter half of last year.
Yoo has been recorded as a "notorious murderous devil" for snatching away the lives of 19 people in total, mostly wealthy elderly people and massage parlor girls. The crimes are even more shocking in that unlike other murders, which are usually motivated by money or personal grudges, these ones were indiscriminately aimed at many and unspecified people out of hatred for women and the wealthy.
Yoo raised the opening act of the Seoul version of the film "Memories of Murder" on Sept. 24, 2003, when he entered a two-story house in Sinsa-dong and killed an honorary Sookmyung University professor and his 68-year-old wife with a blunt instrument.
On Oct. 9, he killed the 85-year-old mother, 60-year-old wife and 35-year-old son of a Mr. Go at their home in Gugi-dong, Seodaemun-gu. In November, he killed the 69-year-old wife of a millionaire at their home in Samseong-dong, Gangnam-gu, and murdered another 87-year-old man and his 53-year-old visiting housekeeper at their home in Hyehwa-dong, Jongno-gu. In the Hyehwa-dong case, he also set fire to the house to remove evidence.
Yoo temporarily stopped his killing spree as investigators closed in on him after his image (from behind) was captured on closed-circuit TV, but it has been confirmed that he killed another 11 people -- women working in illegal clubs and massage parlors in the Seoul area -- since the beginning of this year.
When Yoo was targeting elderly rich people, he usually chose as his targets two-story, 100-pyong or more houses in wealthy neighborhoods that were either far removed from the street or had large gardens so that outsiders could not easily know what was happening inside, thus reducing the possibilities of witnesses.
Moreover, he usually used lunchtime and the afternoon as the times to commit his acts, as these were the times most family members are out of the house and only the elderly are left at home. When an entire family was present, he cruelly killed all of them by striking them repeatedly on the head with a blunt object.
Despite the fact that Yoo carried out his killing in the homes of the wealthy, no money or valuables were ever touched, revealing the crimes to be "hate crimes" against society rather than ones motivated by money or individual grudges. Moreover, he revealed extreme barbarism, calling young women he got to know through illegal clubs and massage parlors to his own house, where he would kill, dismember and secretly bury them.
Police said Yoo grew to hate society, especially women, when his wife -- a former masseuse -- divorced him while he was in prison for theft, and following his release, another girl -- who worked in a "telephone room" (which often serve as places of prostitution) -- turned down a marriage proposal when she learned of Yoo's prison record and divorcee status. Police explained that Yoo had planned to kill his ex-wife, but decided against it out of consideration for his children, so he chose women working in massage parlors and illegal clubs. Police also said that Yoo blamed his discouraging position on the wealthy, and therefore came up with plans to select homes in wealthy neighborhoods in Seoul and murder their wealthy inhabitants.
Experts said Yoo's transformation into a serial killer was brought about as his personal and social alienation became fury and hate. When his wife divorced him, he looked for reasons outside rather than inside, and with his ex-wife in particular; he expanded and applied those complaints to women who did the same kind of work as his ex-wife and indiscriminately killed them. He also carried extreme hostility against the wealthy, claiming that they were responsible for his unlucky and poor circumstances and would need to be punished. Experts believe that certain distorted ideas that have become prevalent in our society, such as "the wealthy steal everything," also played a role. Kwak Dae-kyoung, a police-administration professor at Dongguk University, said that in order to prevent similar incidents from occurring, society must prepare systematic mechanisms that allow alienated and discouraged individuals to better adjust to social change.
In murder cases, clues usually turn up during wide-ranging inquiry investigations. Police discover people with whom the victims shared poor relations or financial relations. This case, however, revealed the limits to this investigation method, as the murders were committed indiscriminately against a wide number of people out of social hostility. In this case, the suspect was caught accidentally for something else, and all was learned as he confessed his crimes. Police see this as "God helping them catch the criminal."
Accordingly, some quarters are pointing out that police crime scene investigation skills should be strengthened and citizen awareness heightened so that they more actively provide tips and notifications.
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