In a breakthrough that brings closure to a decades-old enigma, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) has announced that the long-unidentified human remains discovered in a dumpster in Jenkins County on February 14, 1988, have been positively identified as Chong Un Kim, a 26-year-old resident of Hinesville. Chong Un Kim, who emigrated from Korea in 1981 and resided in Hinesville, Georgia, had been a mysterious figure in the annals of cold cases for years.
The case dates back to that fateful day in 1988 when the GBI was called upon by the Jenkins County Sheriff’s Office to assist in a perplexing death investigation. The victim was found lifeless, concealed within a large nylon suitcase, tightly wrapped with plastic and duct tape, which had been unceremoniously discarded in a dumpster just north of Millen, GA. Forensic analysis indicated that the victim had succumbed to asphyxiation, having perished approximately four to seven days before discovery.
In the intervening years, relentless efforts were made to identify the victim. Fingerprint and dental records comparisons with missing persons across the nation yielded no results. A forensic artist created a sketch of the individual to disseminate to the public, and organizations such as the National Missing and Unidentified Persons System (NAMUS) and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) joined the quest for answers. As DNA technology advanced, evidence was reexamined, yet the profiles obtained were not eligible for entry into the CODIS DNA Database.
The year 2023 marks a turning point in this enduring mystery, as the GBI commenced a collaboration with Othram, Inc., a pioneering organization located in The Woodlands, Texas. Othram specializes in utilizing cutting-edge Forensic-Grade Genome Sequencing to construct comprehensive genealogical profiles, and it was this innovative approach that led to a breakthrough in the case. Forensic evidence was sent to Othram, Inc., and their genealogical search produced critical investigative leads, ultimately leading to the identification of Chong Un Kim. Her family was notified of this development in October 2023, providing a measure of long-awaited closure.
It’s important to acknowledge that this successful resolution was made possible through the support of “Project Justice,” which funded the advanced DNA testing. The GBI now urges anyone who may have had any connection to Chong Un Kim or possesses information related to this case to come forward and assist in filling in the remaining pieces of this intricate puzzle. You can contact the GBI at 912-871-1121, or if you wish to provide anonymous tips, you can do so by calling 1-800-597-TIPS (8477), submitting online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.
This case serves as a testament to the incredible power of genetic genealogy in crime investigations. The collaborative efforts of organizations like Othram, Inc. and the GBI highlight the potential of cutting-edge DNA technology in unraveling long-standing mysteries and bringing justice to the families of victims. As we celebrate this breakthrough in the case of Chong Un Kim, we also acknowledge the potential it holds for future cases and the closure it can provide to those who have waited for answers for so long.
- Chong Un Kim: AllOnGeorgia