A 19-year-old Bloomington man convicted of stabbing and strangling a girl at an Indiana University music school program in 2019 was charged with conspiracy to commit murder on Friday for allegedly trying to hire his cellmate to kill the victim’s parents and others in retaliation.
According to WBIW, in 2019, Dongwook Ko stabbed and strangled the 13-year-old victim in a practice room at Indiana University’s Jacob School of Music during a Strings Academy summer program. The girl reportedly screamed and was found by an employee.
Ko was initially arrested and charged with attempted murder, aggravated battery, strangulation, kidnapping, and kidnapping with a deadly weapon.
WBIW reports that Ko pleaded guilty to criminal confinement and negotiated a plea deal, and he was sentenced to eight years of home detention and two years of probation.
According to the Herald-Times, the judge from Ko’s sentencing cited Ko’s mental health status as a reason why he did not impose prison time.
According to WBIW, Ko is a citizen of South Korea but was living with his mother in Indiana on a student visa at the time.
Immigration agents reportedly took Ko into custody shortly after his sentencing, and his student visa was revoked. WBIW reports that Ko was ordered deported. He was transported to the Clay County Jail in Brazil, Indiana, on an immigration and customs enforcement detention order.
According to the Herald-Times, Ko believed that his 39-year-old cellmate was a gang member, and he hired him to kill and torture the 14 people he blames for his circumstances. The list reportedly included the victim’s parents, defense witnesses, two prosecutors, and a journalist who covered the case.
According to the Herald-Times, Ko had his mother deposit money into the cellmate’s canteen account.
Ko allegedly offered the cellmate $20,000 and agreed to arrange to post his $2,500 bail so he could perform the killings and torture. The plan was for Ko’s cellmate to carry out the killings with his uncle, WBIW reports.
Ko’s cellmate worked with investigators and agreed to wear a recording device, the Herald-Times said. The cellmate reportedly used an iPad to call his uncle, but it was actually a Monroe County Sheriff’s Department detective on the other end.
Ko reportedly told him to kill the victim’s father first before working down his list. According to the Herald-Times, Ko provided extensive details about how he wanted the people on the list tortured and killed.
According to the Herald-Times, Ko will remain in Indiana and faces a possible prison term of 10 to 30 years and a fine up to $10,000 for the conspiracy to commit murder charge. If convicted, Ko could also face the eight years that were suspended on his original charge of criminal confinement.