Forensic Cases: The Woman in the Suitcase

In November 2002, a walker in Askham Richard, a village near York, in North Yorkshire, made a horrific discovery – the almost naked and decomposed body of a young Asian woman, hidden in a suitcase. A pathologist confirmed that she had been suffocated.

Forensic Analysis

The forensic analysis began with the red hair analysis test, which confirmed that the woman came from South-East Asia. However, the police could not identify her from fingerprint and dental records.

Her name was Hyo Jung Jin, she was 21 years old, and she was studying French at the University of Lyon. Her friends contacted her family in Korea when she did not return to university in October after a trip to London. Her brother put her details on a Korean missing person’s website, and a South Korean police officer, who was studying at Leeds University saw these and contacted the police about a possible connection.

Role of Korean Embassy

The Korean Embassy passed fingerprint details of Koreans (all South Korean adults have their fingerprints recorded) to the North Yorkshire Police, and these confirmed her identity.

The police linked Hyo Jung Jin’s death to that of In Hea Song, another Korean student whose almost naked body was found in a cupboard in a house in East London. She had also been suffocated, and forensic scientists identified her body by matching her DNA profile with those of her parents (known as DNA kinship analysis). Money had been taken from both women’s bank cards.

The houses where In Hea Song’s body was found and the house where Hyo Jung Jin visited both had the same landlord – Kyo Soo Kim. Gilbert and George designed the tape used by the murderer to bind around Hyo Jung Jin’s face and body. This tape is only available in the four branches of the Tate Gallery in the UK, in London, Liverpool and Cornwall, and by this date, the Tate had only sold 851 rolls. The police found a roll of this tape at Kyo Soo Kim’s home, which had been bought by his girlfriend, and the forensic scientists found his blood on it. They also matched blue paint from a bedroom to blue paint on the suitcase hiding Hyo Jung Jin’s body.

Blood Traces

Hyo Jung Jin’s blood was on the skirting boards, walls, divan bed and on the carpet in the same room, and in a car that Kyo Soo Kim hired in October 2001, when the girl went missing.

Analysis of mobile phone records tracked Kyo Soo Kim to the area around York at the time that Hyo Jung Jin’s body was dumped in the suitcase. The suitcase was one that was only sold in the Lebanon or South Korea.

Kyo Soo Kim had stayed in a house in Toronto, and the forensic scientists found his DNA on a T-shirt in this house. This T-shirt had orange paint on it that the scientists linked with paint on the tape used around In Hea Song’s wrists. Further tests found DNA from Hyo Jung Jin on items in the same cupboard as In Hea Song’s body.

In 2003, the judge found Kyo Soo Kim guilty for the two murders and gave him a life sentence. Learn about more cases revealed by forsensic evidence.

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