Two Hollister residents accused of killing Yoon Ji in December will next appear on the murder charges against them at San Benito County Courthouse June 22. The hearing is scheduled to set the two defendants’ preliminary hearing.
Suspects Sang Ji, 49, and Jung Choi, 45, have remained in custody at San Benito County Jail, in lieu of $2.01 million bail, since sheriff’s deputies arrested them in December 2017.
Investigators from the San Benito County Sheriff’s Office found the remains of Yoon Ji, who owned the local Hollister Laundromat with her husband, in December off Salinas Grade Road between San Benito and Monterey counties, outside San Juan Bautista.
Police arrested Yoon Ji’s husband and Jung Choi on suspicion of the murder on Dec. 2. Sang Ji initially told county law enforcement that the co-defendant is his cousin. However, a separate claim in civil court—filed by Sang Ji and Yoon Ji’s adult children—alleges that Jung Choi and Sang Ji were having an extramarital affair.
Yoon Ji’s daughter and sister, who live in Los Angeles, reported the woman missing Dec. 2. The daughter told sheriff’s authorities that she had not heard from her mother since about two weeks earlier, which was an unusually long amount of time to pass without contact.
Just before reporting her mother missing, the daughter received a message from her father, Sang Ji, stating the mother had traveled to South Korea unexpectedly, according to authorities. The daughter then contacted family in South Korea, who said the mother was not there and they weren’t expecting her.
The daughter and her sister then drove to Hollister from Los Angeles to confront Sang Ji, according to authorities. When they arrived at the family home in Hollister, the father was with Jung Choi. The daughter did not know Jung Choi.
The daughter became increasingly concerned about her missing mother, and contacted the sheriff’s office to log a report, police said.
Authorities acquired a search warrant and found evidence that suggested Yoon Ji had been killed.
The criminal court file does not include police reports of the case or any description of the evidence against the defendants.
However, a wrongful death lawsuit filed by Sang Ji and Yoon Ji’s daughters in late December alleges that their parents’ marriage had been on the rocks in the weeks preceding their mother’s death. Sang Ji and Jung Choi conspired to remove more than $175,000 worth of “community property assets” from a safe in the family home in Hollister, and transfer the proceeds to an associate in South Korea.
The lawsuit claims the property had belonged jointly to Sang Ji and Yoon Ji, and Sang Ji did not want to divorce his wife of 23 years out of fear of losing a portion of these assets.
Yoon Ji allegedly died of “multiple cranio-cerebral injuries,” according to her daughters’ lawsuit. The defendants allegedly stuffed her body into a suitcase and buried her remains in a ravine on the 2300 block of Salinas Grade Road.
On Feb. 20, San Benito County Superior Court Judge Harry Tobias ordered Sang Ji and Jung Choi to pay each of the two daughters $20 million in damages. The order was a “default judgment” issued after the defendants blew their deadline to respond to the initial wrongful death lawsuit.