Lee, 35, admitted Tuesday to killing the girl at his home in eastern Seoul and disposing of the body on a mountain earlier this month. However, he has kept mum on why. His 14-year-old daughter also admitted to assisting her father in abandoning the body.
“Lee said he had committed the crime to relieve his sexual urges and picked his daughter’s friend, who had hung out at his house when his daughter was in elementary school,” said Gil Woo-geun, a police official from Jungnang Police Station, announcing the result of the investigation.
Criminal profiler Lee Joo-hyun said the suspect has psychopath tendencies, which might be linked to his childhood experience of being bullied at school due to his physical disability.
“He scored 25 points (out of 40 points in a psychopath personality test. Not so high, but he has psychopath tendencies,” the profiler said. “The way Lee responded to bullying has been violence since he was young.”
For years, Lee had received sympathy from the public because he suffered a rare, autosomal dental tumor and his daughter had the same condition. Lee was dubbed “Molar Daddy” because he had lost all his teeth except for one molar due to repeated surgeries to remove outgrowing bones.
Police said Lee’s sexual harassment of the victim was carefully planned in advance, though the murder itself took place accidentally.
According to police, Lee’s daughter lured the victim to his house in eastern Seoul and gave her drinks containing sleeping pills at around 12:20 p.m. on Sept. 30. Lee asked his daughter to go outside and sexually harassed the victim while she was asleep.
Lee strangled the victim to death using a towel and tie out of fear that she might report him to the police, as she woke up, found herself naked and began to scream.
He then put her body in a suitcase and transported it by car to a mountain in Yeongwol County, Gangwon Province, where the body was abandoned, at around 9:30 p.m.
According to an autopsy report by the National Forensic Service, the victim was strangled to death. In her blood, Zolpidem, a substance in sleeping pills, was found. But no signs of sexual assault were found on her body. Lee testified that he was sexually dysfunctional.
The teenager was an “easy target” to ease his sexual desire in the face of his wife’s absence, police said, adding that it is hard to understand his act with “common sense.”
Lee specifically asked his daughter to invite the victim home, telling her that there needed to a person to “play the role of her deceased mother,” according to police. His wife took her own life early last month.
Police concluded that Lee is not a pedophile.
Police referred Lee, who was arrested Sunday, to the prosecution on charges of murder, sexual harassment and body abandonment, they said. Lee’s daughter faces the same charges, except for the murder.
Police said they would continue to investigate the daughter without detention. An arrest warrant sought for her was rejected by the court Thursday. They will also look into the death of Lee’s wife amid allegations that Lee sexually abused her and forced her to sell her body to other men.
As for Lee’s daughter, police said she had trusted her father blindly and heavily relied on him, as he was her main source of information from the outside world, which led her to help her father to commit the crime, police said.
“Lee loved his daughter. She also respected him as more than just her father, perceiving their relationship as emotionally dominant and submissive,” the profiler said, adding her way of thinking had been “distorted” by Lee.
“She didn’t want to see him as wrong. She could not stand moral criticism toward her father. She said ‘my father is not such a person’ when he was morally blamed,” the profiler said.
The case has shocked the public because the suspect had been depicted as a loving and caring father by the media since 2006. He appeared on TV several times, appealing to the public for donations to treat his daughter who was suffering from a rare dental tumor.
In contrast to his carefully crafted public persona, numerous media reports have emerged containing potential evidence and testimonies that hint at his alleged lavish lifestyle, obsession with teenagers and distorted sexual desire.
As he was transferred to a detention facility, Lee offered a tearful apology.
“I am sorry,” he told reporters. “Ever since my wife died, I’ve been high and not myself for a while. I apologize. … I will pay the price. I should apologize for more, but everything (that’s happened) still feels like a dream.”
By Ock Hyun-ju (firstname.lastname@example.org)