Crime Library: Criminal Minds and Methods

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

Dialing for Death

The women came to him.  He called them up like a butcher calls the stockyard.  It was much easier than roaming the streets looking for churches and houses, and much less riskier than the impromptu murders of the Imoon-dong woman and the fake Viagra vendor. 

He called them and they came. Between early April and mid-July, Yoo murdered ten women.  In early April and late April, two women died.  In early May and mid-May, he killed two more.  He claimed three more lives in June.  On July 1, he killed a woman, and another on July 9.  He killed the last one on July 13.

Nearly each case was identical.  They all occurred at night.  He called the phone sex rooms and persuaded the woman to come to his home, or to meet at a place where he could later bring her home.  He offered her money for her time and services, although he later claimed he never had sex with any of his victims for fear of DNA tracking.  Once at his apartment, he let them go to the bathroom as he readied his hammer. Yoo hit their heads and their heads would be the first to come off and he would dismember the rest later.  He saved the victim's cellphone so he could avoid using his own number for later calls.

Always careful, Yoo shaved off the skin of the victim's fingertips.  In South Korea, all citizens have a national identification number (similar to a Social Security number) and are fingerprinted by the government.  As he chopped apart the bodies, he stuffed the pieces into plastic bags.  And then he cleaned manically.  A neighbor later remarked that she sometimes heard the sound of running water long into the night.

He knew of a place up by Bongwon Temple, a brushy hillside, and he headed there with a loaded backpack.  Each body required two trips.  He buried the human remains in shallow graves and later on he marked them to avoid burying bodies in the same spot.  By four o' clock in the morning, he was finished.

  He deviated from his regular routine. On July 1 at a love hotel in the Yeoksam neighborhood in the Gangnam district, he called up a woman for a massage.  When she arrived, he coerced her to his apartment using his forged police ID.  Once back at his place, she met the same demise as the others.  She was the first woman he killed that he called on the pretext of a massage; the previous victims were from the jeonhwa bhangs. The last two victims arrived from a massage parlor also, one on July 9 and the very last on July 13.

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