Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Britain's Bizarre 'Hair-in-Hand' Murder Case

An International Serial Killer?

Jong-Ok Shin
Jong-Ok Shin

As investigators probed deeper into Restivo's background, they learned that he may have been involved in the deaths, disappearances or both of other young women, including 26-year-old South Korean student Jong-Ok Shin. Shin, known as "Oki" to her family and friends, was found brutally stabbed on Malmesbury Park Road in Bournemouth during the early morning hours of July 12, 2002, a few months before Heather Barnett's murder. Shin later died from her injuries at a local hospital.

Omar Benguit, 30, a resident of the Bournemouth suburb of Winton, was arrested and charged with Shin's murder a short time later. Benguit's first two trials ended in hung juries, reportedly because of testimony from unreliable witnesses. At his third trial, however, in January 2005, Benguit was found guilty and sentenced to life in prison despite his repeated protestations of innocence and the fact that Dorset Police admitted that they have no motive for Shin's murder, no murder weapon, and virtually no forensic evidence.

Giovanni di Stefano
Giovanni di Stefano

Interestingly, the location where Shin was stabbed was within a couple of blocks of Restivo's residence, and there were reports that she may have had strands of hair in one of her hands when she was found. She was also reportedly a neighbor of Restivo.

According to the Austrian Times, Benguit's lawyer, Giovanni di Stefano, stated recently on Italian television that he believes Shin's murder is connected to that of Heather Barnett and Elisa Claps because of the purported strands of hair found in one of her hands. It should be noted that there was never any mention of hair found in Shin's hand in newspaper accounts covering Shin's murder, and it was not immediately clear where Benguit's lawyer had obtained that information. Nonetheless, di Stefano said that he would be asking for an independent, formal investigation into his client's case because of a possible miscarriage of justice in light of the new developments surrounding Restivo.

 

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