After 17-year-old Dongwook Ko allegedly lured a 13-year-old girl away from practicing violin to an upstairs room where he strangled, slashed and stabbed her repeatedly before fleeing the scene, he called his mom.
“I don’t know what I did,” Ko told his mother on the phone July 12. “I may have hurt her.”
Ko appeared in court Wednesday on charges of attempted murder, aggravated battery, kidnapping, confinement, battery and strangulation, wearing the same button-up shirt as in his mugshot. He is being tried as an adult.
Ko’s lawyer Carl Salzmann said given Ko’s mental health, a psychiatric evaluation would be necessary to see if he’s fit to stand trial. He told Judge Darcie Fawcett he intends to file a formal request for a competency evaluation in the case tomorrow.
Fawcett also signed a no contact order between Ko and the 13-year-old girl.
The 13-year-old girl was a student at the Jacobs School of Music Summer String Academy, a program for children ages 5-18 studying violin or cello. Ko is an acquaintance of hers who attended the program last summer, according to the probable cause affidavit. Ko is a Bloomington resident, while the girl is from Florida.
The girl was practicing her violin last Friday in room 388 of the Music Annex Building when Ko entered the room and told her a teacher wanted to speak to her on the fourth floor. She told police he led her to a locker room before throwing her and pinning her against a locker with his arm and hand.
When she started to scream and fight him off, he placed his hand over her mouth. She kicked him, and they fell to the floor, where the fight continued. Ko began to choke her before pressing a tactical folding knife against her throat, according to the affidavit.
“Oh my God,” she told police she thought during the attack. “This can’t be happening to me.”
She said he then got on top of her and began to slash and stab her with the knife. He cut her around 10 times, mostly superficial wounds to the girl’s limbs. Three larger injuries would require suturing at the hospital later, one on her right calf and two large cuts on her left hand — her violin hand.
She kept screaming during the attack. She told police she was scared no one would come, and that it would be too late. She said she thought she was going to die.
Then she heard footsteps.
In his office down the hall from the locker room, IU employee Ronald Sebben heard the screams. At first, he thought it was String Academy students goofing around but decided to check out the sounds when he heard them again.
He found the two and pulled Ko off of the girl. She broke away. Sebben stopped her for a second, but he told police she looked so scared he let her go.
She ran to a room her friend and camp roommate was practicing in, next to her original practice room. Her friend said the girl entered the room screaming and bleeding from the arms and hands before the two found camp counselors, one of whom called 911 after seeing the girl running down a stairwell screaming. They waited for the ambulance crew in the third floor lobby.
The girl told police every time the stair door or elevators opened, she thought it was Ko.
Meanwhile, Sebben took Ko downstairs so he could call the police, but Ko ran. Sebben chased him out of the building, but Ko got away.
Ko called his mother Jee Yeon Kim before driving home in the family’s Land Rover, according to the affidavit. She told police he hadn't seemed upset that day and had told her he was going to meet a friend at Merrill Hall and get lunch. When he came home at 10:10 a.m., there was blood on his arms and clothing. Kim saw small cuts on his arms and told police she thought the blood was his at the time.
He then told his mother he had pulled a prank on a girl by telling her to follow him before placing his hand over her mouth to keep her quiet. He said she started to scream so he choked her and they started wrestling, and the knife fell out of his pocket. He said she ran away after they wrestled for a bit.
Ko showed his mother the knife, which he had placed in a Kleenex Box before putting it in a clear Tupperware container in the kitchen with a few inches of water. Before police arrived, Kim told her son to change his clothing. When officers arrested Ko at his residence, he and Kim showed them the knife in the Tupperware.
Ko will remain in the Monroe County Jail until his bail review hearing, which was rescheduled to 9 a.m. Friday. His bond is set at $150,500.
His first pre-trial conference is scheduled for 2 p.m. Sept. 4.
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