After over two decades of investigation, authorities have now confirmed that the bodies of two murder victims, an unidentified boy and a Korean woman in two separate states beside the same U.S. highway were in fact mother and son.
The remains of the boy, identified as 10-year-old Robert “Bobby” Adam Whitt who was born in Michigan and raised in Ohio, was found under an Interstate 85-40 billboard in North Carolina in September 1998. Cho Myoung Hwa’s remains were found a few months earlier on May 13, 1998 on the same highway in Spartanburg County, South Carolina, according to AP via South China Morning Post
. It was reported that her hands were bound and had been suffocated.
The connection between the two was only uncovered last year when Doctor Barbara Rae-Venter, a consultant who helped the case with the Golden State Killer, joined the investigation in December 2018. Dr. Rae-Venter reviewed the latest DNA tests on the boy’s body and matched his result with the DNA of a close relative who had submitted the information on an online database, said in the report.
It was then later confirmed that the relative knew the boy, Bobby, and that the family assumed he was taken by his mother to South Korea.
Investigators then enlisted the help of Korean authorities to identify the woman as Cho after DNA test confirmed the two’s relation.
After the discovery, authorities were able to identify the suspect: Cho’s American husband John Rusell Whitt, WCPO
reported. “It’s been absolutely devastating because we didn’t know they were missing,”
Whitt’s sister, Barbara Moellmann, told WCPO
. “It’s like it just happened. It’s like we just found out Dec. 26 that my brother went on a murder spree.”
The man, who is serving a lengthy prison sentence for armed robbery, admitted to the killing, but has yet to be charged with murder of the two. According to Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Lieutenant Kevin Bobo, authorities still can’t file charges against the man until investigators figure out where the killing took place. However, officers believe that the boy and his mother were killed somewhere else and their remains were dumped beside the interstate.
Investigators from both states were oblivious to the fact that these two cases were related until Dr. Rae-Venter discovered the relation of the two last year. This, however, didn’t stop them from trying to solve the murder.
“I always kept the case file box under my desk, where it was purposefully in my way. Every time I turned, I hit it with my leg. I did this so the little boy could not be forgotten,” Orange County Sheriff’s Major Tim Horne, who had worked the case since the beginning, said.
Images screenshot via YouTube / WCPO