Georgia authorities arrested five adults and one teenager after a body was found in the trunk of a car outside a Korean spa in Gwinnett County.
Gwinnett County Police said a 911 caller reported a possible body inside a vehicle near Jeju Sauna on Gwinnett Place Drive in unincorporated Duluth around 10:50 p.m. on September 12.
When police arrived at the scene, they found the body of a woman in the trunk of a silver Jaguar sedan.
On Thursday, the department identified the suspects as Joonhyun Lee, 22, of Lawrenceville; Joonho Lee, 26 years old; Hyunji Lee, 25 years old; Gawon Lee, 26 years old; Junyeoug Lee, 15 years old; and Suwanee resident Eric Hyun, 26.
All six are charged with felony murder, imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealment of a death.
During a news conference Thursday, Gwinnett police said the victim was from South Korea and came to the Atlanta area this summer to join “Soldiers of Christ,” a religious organization to which the suspects claim to belong.
His identity has not been revealed as police have not yet contacted his family in South Korea.
Gawon Lee (left), 26, and Hyunji Lee (right), 25, were among five charged in connection with the body found in the trunk. Gwinnett County Police / Facebook
Although the exact cause of death has not been determined, police said the Medical Examiner’s Office believes malnutrition may have been a factor.
Detectives believe the victim, whose body weighed approximately 70 pounds when found, was repeatedly beaten and starved while captive.
Gwinnett police believe Hyun was the driver of the Jaguar and reported that he called a family member to pick him up at the location shortly after parking the vehicle.
Lawrenceville residents Joonho Lee (left), 26, and Joonhyun Lee (right), 15, were also identified as charged suspects. Gwinnett County Police / Facebook
Hyun was picked up and taken to the hospital for unrelated injuries, police said.
While at the hospital, police said Hyun asked the family member to go get a personal item from the car for him.
When that family member got to the car, they called 911 to report what appeared to be a body in the trunk.
Police say Eric Hyun, 26, was the driver of the Jaguar Sedan in which the body was found. Gwinnett County Police / Facebook
A search warrant was executed at a residence associated with Hyun on Stable Gate in unincorporated Lawrenceville.
At the home, detectives and crime scene investigators collected evidence that led them to believe the crime took place in the basement, police said.
A Jeju Sauna owner told FOX 5 Atlanta that surveillance video shows a man arriving at the spa’s parking area in a silver Jaguar next to a Mercedes.
Gwinnett County Police said evidence leads them to believe the crime took place in the basement. Gwinnett County Police Department
The man can allegedly be seen looking in the boot of the Jaguar before getting into the Mercedes and driving away.
The owner said the video also shows the Mercedes returning to the car later that night, followed by police shortly after.
FOX 5 shared a statement from the popular sauna that reads as follows:
The body found in the Jaguar Sedan was that of a South Korean woman, although police have not yet released her name. Gwinnett County Police / Facebook
“We would like to address a recent incident that occurred in our parking lot. We want to assure our valued customers that this incident had absolutely nothing to do with our business operations and was limited to the parking area only.
“The safety and well-being of our customers has always been our top priority. We are cooperating fully with local law enforcement authorities who are currently investigating the matter. We trust that they will quickly bring those responsible to justice.
“We understand that incidents like these can cause concern among our loyal customers and we want to emphasize that this was an isolated incident that does not reflect the overall security of our facilities. We are grateful for our security officers who patrol in and around our parking lot to provide a safe environment for everyone.
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“We encourage our customers to continue enjoying the wide range of services and amenities we offer, including our rejuvenating saunas, therapeutic baths and cultural experiences. We remain committed to maintaining the high standards of cleanliness, hospitality and relaxation that our guests expect from us.
“We would like to thank our valued customers for their continued support and trust in Jeju Sauna.”
Gwinnett police confirmed that the sauna does not appear to have any connection to the crime.
Any additional information regarding the case can be relayed to Gwinnett County Police Detectives at 770-513-5300.
Anonymous tips can be submitted to Crime Stoppers at 404-577-TIPS (8477), where a cash reward may be offered for information leading to an arrest and indictment.