Gwinnett County

Police: Woman found dead in trunk was lured to U.S. to join “religious group,” then beaten, starved

GWINNETT COUNTY, Ga. — Gwinnett County police say a woman found dead in the trunk of a Jaguar outside a popular Gwinnett County sauna was lured to the U.S. to join a “religious group” before she was starved to death.

Police said someone called to report a body in the trunk of a car outside the Jeju Sauna on Tuesday night.

Police found the remains of a woman in the vehicle.

On Thursday, police announced the arrests of six people -- five adults and a 15-year-old boy, in the woman’s death.

[DOWNLOAD: Free WSB-TV News app for alerts as news breaks]

They are identified as Eric Hyun, 26; Joonhyum Lee, 22; Joonho Lee, 26; Hyunji Lee, 25; and Gawon Lee, 26 and Junyeong Lee, 15.

All six have been charged with felony murder, imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealing a death.

Police said in a news conference Thursday afternoon that the woman, who has not been identified, was from South Korea and was lured to Atlanta over the summer under the guise of joining a religious organization.


Police said that after she arrived, she was beaten and starved for months until she died.

“They called themselves ‘Soldiers of Christ,’” police said. “Apparently, the victim was subjected to beatings and malnourishment, which subsequently, and what the medical examiner’s office believes led to her death.”

The official cause of death has not been determined.

The woman, who is believed to have been in her 20s or 30s, was approximately 70 pounds when her body was found, police said. They believe she may have been in the trunk for several days.

Police said they believe Hyun drove the Jaguar to the parking lot of the sauna, then called a family member and asked to be picked up and taken to a hospital to be treated for an unrelated injury.

He then sent the family member back to the vehicle to retrieve something, and that person discovered the body and called 911.

[SIGN UP: WSB-TV Daily Headlines Newsletter]

Police said that after the body was found, the investigation led them to a home on Stable Gate in Lawrenceville, where they determined that the crimes happened in the home’s basement.

Police said the three Lee brothers lived at the home. Hyun had lived at the home but was not related to the brothers. Hyunji Lee was one of the suspect’s girlfriends. All are U.S. citizens except for Gowan Lee, who is visiting on a visa.

Hyun is in custody at the hospital.

Police said they don’t believe there are any more victims.