DULUTH, Ga. (AP) — Five adults and a 15-year-old self-described as “Soldiers of Christ” religious group members were in custody Thursday on murder charges after a woman’s body was found in the trunk of a car parked outside a popular spa in Atlanta’s suburbs.
Investigators said that someone reported the discovery Tuesday night outside of a Korean spa and sauna in Duluth. Authorities said the killing does not appear to be connected to the spa.
The victim, according to arrest warrants, was starved and beaten for weeks before she eventually died. Her identity has not been released.
Facing charges of felony murder, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealing the death of another are Eric Hyun, 26, of Suwanee; Gawom Lee, 26; Joonho Lee, 26; Juoonhyum Lee, 22; Hyunji Lee, 25, and a 15-year-old, all from Lawrenceville.
Each of them also faces multiple gang-related charges. Under Georgia law, a criminal street gang is “any organization, association, or group of three or more persons associated in fact, whether formal or informal, which engages in criminal gang activity.”
All are being held without bond. It was unknown if any of them had an attorney who could speak on their behalf. Jail records do not list a lawyer’s name and they were not yet listed in Gwinnett County online court records.
A woman who answered a phone listing for Hyun hung up. A woman who answered a phone listing for Joonho Lee said she couldn’t talk.
Detectives believe Hyun was the driver of the car that contained the victim’s body.
Police said Hyun parked the vehicle early Tuesday, then called a relative to pick him up. The family member then took Hyun to an Atlanta-area hospital for unrelated injuries. While there, he asked the family member to get a personal item from the parked vehicle.
When the family member went back to the vehicle, he discovered the woman’s body in the trunk and called 911, police said.
The investigation resulted in a search warrant for a Lawrenceville home that police said has ties to Hyun. Detectives believe the crime occurred in the home’s basement, police said.
Authorities believe the victim recently moved to the United States from South Korea to join a religious organization, known as Soldiers of Christ. The suspects referred to themselves as members of the group, investigators said.