Atlanta, Georgia -- As police added one suspect to the list in a Gwinnett County murder case, an attorney is trying to clear another suspect’s name.
In September, police arrested six people, one of whom is 15, in connection to a body found in a car outside a spa. The group, called “Soldiers of Christ,” reportedly starved and beat the woman to death, according to law enforcement. She was from South Korea and had been lured to the U.S. to join the religious organization, police said.
On Wednesday, police arrested 54-year-old Mihee Lee, the mother of three of the suspects — Juoonhyum Lee, Joonho Lee and Junyeong Lee. Her multiple charges include felony murder, false imprisonment and concealing the death of another person, booking records show. Her home address is listed as the same place where the alleged abuse took place.
Mihee Lee is expected in court Friday for a bond hearing.
Those previously arrested and their charges include:
On Sept. 14, officers responded to the parking lot of Jeju Sauna in unincorporated Duluth. Hyun reportedly parked a car with the body in the sauna’s lot, according to law enforcement. Then he asked a family member to take him to the hospital.
Later, he asked the relative to get something for him in the vehicle. That’s when the family member found the body and called 911, police said.
In a press conference, police said the victim was a woman in her 20s to mid-30s. They believe her body had been in the car for at least a few days. The suspects reportedly kept her inside a house in unincorporated Lawrenceville, beating and starving her for weeks. The body weighed 70 pounds when it was discovered, according to police.
Hyun has a bond set at $100,000, as long as he wears an ankle monitor and lives with his parents. But Hyun’s attorney, David Boyle, argues he is innocent.
According to a statement, Hyun was lured to the group by Joonhoo Lee and “physically tortured.” This torture reportedly happened in the same basement that the murder victim was kept in, Boyle claimed.
“He made it out of their house in a very injured state,” Boyle said. “He did have remains in the trunk of the car and he called his father for assistance. He could barely get out of the car at that point and his father discovered the body in the trunk and contacted police.”
Boyle claimed Hyun was coerced into wiring tens of thousands of dollars to Korea and maxing out his credit cards. The purchases reportedly included a house purchase in Suwanee for the group’s new church, according to Boyle.
Hyun escaped with the victim’s body, Boyle said. He suffered “extensive injuries,” staying at Grady Memorial Hospital for more than two weeks and remaining in the jail’s medical wing, according to Boyle.
“If Eric had not escaped from the Lees’ house, he would have also died,” Boyle said. “Eric Hyun is innocent of these charges and I am confident that he will be cleared of these charges once that investigation is complete.”
Boyle added that other members of Soldiers of Christ are still at large. but police have yet to confirm the religious group’s status.