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Carolyn Abel stabbed to death in South Korea: Investigators believe she was murdered by a fellow American

Close up of Carolyn Abel smiling
Carolyn Abel had been teaching English in South Korea when she was murdered. Pic credit: 48 Hours /CBS

In December 1988, Carolyn Abel was stabbed over 30 times in her apartment in Seoul, South Korea. Investigators believe that Carolyn, an American, was teaching English at a language school in the city, when she was murdered by one of her fellow compatriots who was also teaching at the school.

Carolyn was found dead on the 15th floor of her apartment building, and the premises had been ransacked. Initial theories were that this was a robbery that had gone badly wrong. Other young Americans at the school became fearful that they too might be targeted by local criminals. However, investigators soon began to suspect there might be a killer among the group of young Americans.

John Boatwright of the Army’s Criminal Investigation Division was brought in to assist local investigators, and began working on the theory that Carolyn knew her attacker. He came to this conclusion because there were no signs of forced entry into the apartment. A US military officer posted nearby was promptly ruled out as a suspect.

Suspicion began to fall on the two roommates who had discovered Carolyn’s body, Kathy Patrick and Sandra Ames. Ames eventually made the shocking allegation to investigators that Patrick had returned home and informed her that she’d killed Carolyn. The pair returned to Carolyn’s apartment where Ames claimed they rearranged items to make it look like the scene of a robbery.

It was claimed that Patrick may have made a romantic advance on Carolyn, and when this was rejected she flew into a rage, stabbing Carolyn to death.

Shortly afterwards, Patrick returned to the United States, which did not prevent Korean police issuing a warrant for her arrest. However, the lack of an extradition treaty between the two countries meant that US was unable to enforce it.

Patrick is currently living in Washington State, where she is a student advisor working at the Western Washington University. She maintains her innocence.

The crime is investigated on 48 Hours at 8/7c on Investigation Discovery.


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