Serial Killer Suspect Lived Near Crime Scenes

  • By Kwon Sang-eun, Park Joo-young

    September 20, 2019 13:11

    A file photo of Lee Chun-jae in high school

    A man identified by forensic analysis as the suspect in a series of grisly murders in Hwaseong south of Seoul during from 1986 to 1991 lived in the area where they were committed at the time.

    Lee Chun-jae (56), who is serving a life sentence for another murder that followed a similar pattern, was born and raised in Hwaseong.

    Residents in Jinan-dong, Hwaseong said Lee lived in the city until the early 1990s, when he was in his late 20s. Out of 10 rape-murders of women that terrorized the town, six were committed in the Jinan-dong area. One was later discovered to have been committed by a copycat.

    Lee, who has been behind bars for the last 20 years for raping and murdering his sister in law, has been considered a model prisoner, so prison officials were shocked to learn that he was the key suspect of the unsolved serial killings. One prison source said, "If he hadn't been given a mandatory life sentence, he would have been released on parole by now."

    Even convicts serving life sentences are eligible for parole if they are model inmates for more than 20 years. But prison authorities in Busan said they never considered the option. Lee denied the fresh charges when police visited him in prison but has now been transferred to a solitary cell.

    Seo Joong-seok, a former head of the National Forensic Service, said, "If Lee's DNA matches samples collected from three of the crime scenes, he is practically certain to be the killer since the evidence was discovered by analyzing preserved samples in a series of crimes that occurred over an extended period."

    When asked about the possibility of DNA evidence being tampered with, Seo said, "DNA extraction is still possible even if evidence has long gone, and while some genetic information may be missing or untraceable, there is no chance of confusion with others'."

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