Teen’s death in N.C. was due to strangling

By The Charlotte Observer with additional info by Seattle Times Staff
Aug. 31, 2002

A Seattle teenager found dead in a vacant apartment in Charlotte, N.C., after going door-to-door to raise money for the Unification Church was strangled, police said yesterday, as the man charged with her death was ordered held without bond.

Jin-Joo Byrne, 18, a June graduate of Summit alternative school, disappeared Wednesday while trying to sell costume jewelry to anyone who would give at least $12 to the Washington, D.C.-based religious group.

Her body was found Thursday, and Eugene DeMorris Evans, 21, who lives nearby, has been charged with murder, kidnapping and robbery. A bail hearing is scheduled for Sept. 9.

Evans was placed on probation last month for property crimes. Records show convictions for possession of drug paraphernalia, resisting an officer, breaking and entering, and larceny.

Unification Church leaders will meet tomorrow in Washington, D.C., to evaluate policies on door-to-door solicitations, said the Rev. Phillip Schanker, the church’s national vice president.

“We want to be able to learn from this and grow from it,” he said. Byrne was not supposed to have been at the apartment complex where her body was found, Schanker said.

Her assigned area was a nearby office complex, “the kind of thing that would be appropriate” for young church workers, he said. But after finishing there, Byrne suggested going to the apartments, said Schanker, who was in Charlotte yesterday. Her partner didn’t want to go, he added. But Byrne, raised in the church, had good experiences going door-to-door in residential areas. Byrne went, apparently without consulting group leaders, Schanker said.

“Everybody’s heartbroken and tearful,” he said. “It’s clear it was not the assignment or the intention for them to be in that area.”

Church policy calls for checking with local church leaders to find acceptable canvassing areas.

Schanker declined to say whether that was done, but added: “It’s clear we could have done a better job in that area.”

Byrne’s parents, who live in the Greenwood neighborhood of Seattle, attended a vigil at the apartment complex last night.

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