Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

Yoo Young-cheol, South Korea's Brutal Serial Killer

Drama of the Doomed: Part 1

It took police only ten days finalize their investigation.  On Monday, July 26, as police prepared their case to turn over to the prosecutors, Yoo was transferred to the prosecutor's office.  Outside was a mass of reporters, photojournalists, and rubbernecking pedestrians.

A woman known as Ms. Jeong, a 51-year old mother of one of his victims, screamed, "The police's insincere and incompetent investigation killed my daughter.  If you arrested him earlier, my daughter would not have died!"  Holding an umbrella and storming up the cement stairs, she rushed at Yoo and an escorting police officer promptly laid a swift side kick to her chest and she crashed down the steps.

The scene was captured on a live television broadcast and caused outrage throughout the country.  The Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency responded the next day with a public apology, proffering the excuse that the umbrella was mistaken for a weapon.  Huh Joon-young, the chief of police, stated, "Because of our mistake in not realizing it was the victim's mother, we again hurt the saddened, mourning family. We will make measures to protect the victims and their families." 

Huh Joon young, police
Huh Joon young, police

One of the police officers involved said, "I tried to stop her from coming towards Yoo. It was not my intention to hurt her."  Other officers that escorted Yoo that day claimed the incident was a set-up orchestrated by reporters from Japan's Fuji TV.  They persuaded Ms. Jeong to rush at Yoo and yank off his face mask in order to get some good footage of the serial killer's face.  A staffer at Fuji TV laughed at the claims.

While in custody, Yoo complained to the National Human Rights Commission of Korea.  He claimed his basic rights were violated because he was kept in chains, unable to use the toilet, and a closed circuit television camera kept surveillance on him 24 hours a day.  His complaints garnered little public reaction and the NHRCK stated they had no intention of looking into his claims.

Seoul police officers
Seoul police officers

On July 29, Yoo refused to talk to the police and went on a hunger strike.  For the prosecution team, this wasn't any good.  Nearly their entire case was built on what Yoo confessed to them.  Their information pipeline dried up when Yoo decided to shut up.  Criminal investigations in South Korea are often dependant on extracting confessions.  Admitting that they garnered little physical evidence of their own except for what Yoo spoon-fed them, the prosecution team scrambled to assemble all advanced investigation methods they could access. 

Yoo first appeared in court on September 6 and admitted his guilt.  He described how he dismembered the corpses and said that he killed two more people in addition to the 21 counts he was charged with.  After recounting his gruesome details, he said, "I gave up my life. You, the judges, are not the kind of persons who can punish my sins."  Yoo carried an air about him that made it seem like nothing could hurt him and that he was beyond care and he cared nothing for his defense.  He said, "I wish this was the last day of the trial. I refuse to appear in court next time." Before he left the courtroom, Yoo addressed the audience and said, "I would like to apologize to the victims for what I have done. I am sorry."

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