Lawyer says suspect was in fact victim himself in ‘House of Horrors’ case after body found in a vehicle

He remains in the jail infirmary as mother of other suspects is now also charged

GWINNETT COUNTY, GA (Oct. 8, 2023) On Sept. 12, Eric Hyun, 26, of Suwanee, was arrested along with five other suspects, one a juvenile, and charged in the death of a woman who allegedly was lured to the U.S. to join a “religious group.” She was then allegedly tortured before being starved to death. Her body was discovered when Hyun asked a family member to retrieve something from a vehicle he had been driving and left parked at the Jeju Sauna after they had dropped him off at an Atlanta area hospital. His family member called the police when the emaciated body of the woman was found in the trunk of the vehicle. She has been identified as Se Hee Cho.

Hyun, along with Gawom Lee, 26, Joonho Lee, 26, Juoonhyum Lee, 22, Hyunji Lee, 25, and Junyeoug Lee, 15, all of Lawrenceville, were subsequently charged with felony murder, false imprisonment, tampering with evidence and concealing the death of another. The group, whose religious organization labeled itself as Soldiers of Christ, is alleged to have lured Cho from Korea and kept her in the basement of a house on Stable Gate Lane in Lawrenceville. They allegedly physically tortured her under the guise of a religious ritual in order to provide for her entry into their so called “church,” and subsequently starved her to death. She is reported to have weighed 70 pounds by the time she died.

But attorney David Boyle, senior partner of Crawford and Boyle, LLC of Monroe, GA, says Hyun is not guilty of the crime and was instead also a victim of the Lee family’s religious extremism.

Hyun is being represented by Boyle.

“Eric was also recruited to join the church by Joonho Lee. Eric was physically tortured. He was beaten with a belt in his genitals and face until he was knocked unconscious. He was stripped naked and shot with an airsoft gun all over his body, causing over a hundred wounds. This torture occurred in the basement of the same home during the same time period that Ms. Cho was there,” Boyle said. “The Lees used a sanding block to sand the skin off his chest to indoctrinate him into their religious extremism. Eric has suffered extensive injuries and is still in the medical wing of the jail after having spent over two weeks at Grady Hospital. Eric can barely walk.”

Boyle said that on Sept. 12, Hyun escaped from the Lee’s basement with the remains of Cho, who had passed away by that time. Boyle said that in addition to the physical torture, the Lee family also took advantage of Hyun’s finances.

“They coerced him to wire tens of thousands of dollars to Korea, they maxed out his credit cards and used his credit to purchase a house in Suwanee for their church,” Boyle said. “The evidence will show that while Eric was confirmed to the basement, the Lees were using his credit cards to buy clothes, and to go out to eat. In the last two weeks before his arrest, the Lees spent $6,700 on just one of his credit cards.”

Boyle said if Hyun had not managed to escape from what has been labeled the “House of Horrors,” he would also have died.

“He still needs significant medical care for his injuries. Initial media reports stated that Eric went to the hospital for unrelated injuries – they were not unrelated,” Boyle said.

There are still other members of this religious extremist group at large and the case remains under investigation by Gwinnett County Police Department and the District Attorney’s Office. Boyle said that the leader, Joonho Lee, was denied bond at his bond hearing Wednesday morning and his mother, Mihee Lee, also now has been arrested and charged in the case.

“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 said.

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