Seattle teen strangled, autopsy in Charlotte finds; man held

Seatte Post-Intelligencer, Aug. 31, 2002
Saturday, August 31, 2002

A Seattle teenager was strangled in Charlotte, N.C., after she disappeared while soliciting donations for the Unification Church, an autopsy revealed yesterday.

And prosecutors charged Eugene DeMorris Evans, 21, with murder, robbery and kidnapping in the death of Jin Joo Byrne, 18. He was ordered held without bond pending a hearing on Sept. 9.

Byrne, a 2002 graduate of Summit School, was found dead Thursday in an abandoned apartment unit after disappearing Wednesday night. She and another church member had split up while selling costume jewelry for a fund-raising project.

It was not clear whether Byrne was sexually assaulted, said Charlotte-Mecklenberg police Capt. Sean Mulhall.

He credited tenants of the Roseland Apartments with leading police to Evans, who has a lengthy criminal past. He has been arrested at least eight times, twice for burglary, Mulhall said.

“We got a lot of cooperation from people in the community,” he said. “They led us to him quickly.”

Mulhall denied that the neighborhood in west Charlotte is dangerous, despite reports to the contrary.

“I can’t think of a homicide we’ve had in that neighborhood this year,” he said. “It’s surrounded by a residential neighborhood. It’s not a housing project.”

Meanwhile, members of Byrne’s family were expected to arrive in Charlotte last night or early today.

She is survived by her father, mother and three younger siblings.

On Wednesday, church members called police after Byrne did not show up at a rendezvous point. She had called another member with a walkie-talkie, saying she was running a little late.

She never showed up.

Byrne and other teens were participating in a summer program, traveling the country to attend workshops, minister to others and do service projects.

“It’s senseless for something like this to happen,” Mulhall said. “You just don’t know why.”

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Religion News Blog posted this on Saturday August 31, 2002.
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