BUSAN/SUWON, South Korea, Sept. 19 (Yonhap) -- A 56-year-old man, who has been identified as a key suspect in South Korea's worst serial murder case, denied any involvement in the killings, police said Thursday.
The man, currently serving a prison sentence for a separate crime, is a suspected perpetrator in at least three of the 10 deaths that are collectively known as the Hwaseong serial murder case that occurred in 1986-91.
The killing of 10 women, whose ages ranged from 13 to 71, in the suburban town of Hwaseong, south of Seoul, shocked the country due to the cruelty of the crimes.
The suspect remained at large for nearly 30 years despite police efforts to track down the criminal. More than 2 million police officers, a record number for a single case, were mobilized.
The suspect is currently serving a life sentence at a prison in the southeastern port city of Busan for the murder and rape of his sister-in-law in 1994.
Officials at the Busan prison said the suspect was a quiet individual who was known as a model prisoner, adding that officers and other prisoners were surprised at the news.
One official, who requested not to be named, said the suspect seemed like his usual self despite undergoing police investigations.
"I heard that even after the police investigation, he was quite calm and didn't show much reaction," the official said.
Police who are leading the Hwaseong murder probe declined to elaborate on other developments, citing an ongoing investigation.
Because the statute of limitations regarding the Hwaseong case expired in 2006, the suspect will not be punished even if the charges are confirmed.
Police have yet extended the investigation to track down the criminal.
The Hwaseong murder case became the main inspiration for the hit 2003 Korean movie "Memories of Murder" by director Bong Joon-ho, who also helmed this year's Cannes-winning "Parasite."
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