Man Allegedly Tried to Hire Cellmate in Indiana to Kill 14

By The Associated Press
The Associated Press
The Associated Press
December 14, 2021 Updated: December 14, 2021

BRAZIL, IND.—A man who pleaded guilty to attacking a 13-year-old girl who was attending an Indiana University violin camp has been charged with conspiracy to commit murder for allegedly trying to hire his jail cellmate to kill the victim’s parents and a dozen other people.

Dongwook Ko, 19, allegedly provided a hit list and a map to the 39-year-old man who was his cellmate at the Clay County Detention Center in Brazil, Indiana, The Herald-Times reported, citing court records filed Friday along with conspiracy to commit murder charge.

Ko, of Bloomington, believed his cellmate was a gang member who would arrange the torture and killings of 14 people connected to his conviction in the 2019 attack on the girl, court records state.

Ko appeared Monday morning in a Clay County court for an initial hearing. A message seeking comment on the allegations was left Monday by The Associated Press for one of Ko’s attorneys.

The victim’s parents, defense witnesses, two prosecutors, and a journalist who covered the case were among the targeted individuals on a list the cellmate provided to police, according to a probable cause affidavit.

The cellmate told police Ko offered to pay $20,000 for the torture and killing of the people on the list and that he would arrange to post the man’s $2,500 bail so he could get released and carry out the killings with help from the man’s uncle.

The cellmate agreed to wear a recording device while talking with Ko about carrying out the plan and investigators allowed the man to use an iPad to call his uncle to arrange the killings, but the person on the other end of the call was actually a sheriff’s department detective, the affidavit states.

Ko reportedly told the detective on the call to start with the girl’s father, whose name was at the top of the list, and then work his way through the others in order. He provided details, indicating that some victims were to be tortured, according to the affidavit.

Ko pleaded guilty this year to criminal confinement while armed with a deadly weapon for attacking the girl with a pocketknife in July 2019 as she was playing her violin alone in a Merrill Hall practice room during IU’s Summer String Academy. Authorities said Ko knew the victim from the previous summer’s violin camp.

A Monroe County judge last month sentenced Ko to eight years of home detention, followed by two years of probation and ordered him to get psychological treatment. But just days later, immigration agents picked up Ko, a South Korean resident, at his mother’s Bloomington home and took him into custody.

Because he had been convicted of a felony, Ko’s temporary U.S. residency visa was revoked and he was ordered deported to South Korea. Ko will remain in Indiana to face the murder conspiracy charge.