A south Korean student whose body was found in a suitcase dumped in North Yorkshire sent an e-mail shortly before her disappearance revealing that she had met a "kind" man, detectives disclosed.
Hyo Jung Jin, 21, said in the message that the man had shown her the sights of London during her one-week trip from Lyon, where she was taking a two-month French course.
Miss Jin, who sent the e-mail at 7pm on 26 October to South Korea from a rented room in a west London flat, revealed plans to meet with the man in Paris, to go to Euro Disney, and admitted a lot of her money had been spent.
It was the last contact with friends, parents and her brother, who had been used to daily updates.
She was suffocated before her body, bound in an unusual Gilbert and George tape sold only at Tate Gallery shops, was dumped in a country lane at Askham Richard near York on 18 November last year.
Forensic evidence now suggests that the corpse was disposed of on 2 November – the same day that a local resident had seen a man standing in the lane by a car at around 4am. A photofit of the man was issued weeks ago by police, who are also investigating the disappearance of In Hea Song, a 22-year-old who shared mutual friends with Miss Jin.
At a press conference at New Scotland Yard, where the joint Metropolitan/North Yorkshire Police investigation is being run, police said Miss Song made an overnight trip to York on 17 November. She boarded a bus from Victoria station on 16 November and is captured by CCTV cameras arriving in York at 4.10am, then she boarded another bus back to the capital 12 hours later. Though the timing suggests she may have been planning to meet someone, detectives are unsure what she did in the city and appealed for any of the passengers on either bus trip to contact them.
The disappearance of Miss Song, who was studying hotel management at Surrey University, is being firmly linked to Miss Jin's death. Miss Song has not been heard from since 8 December but stayed at the same two-bedroom London flat in November that Miss Jin had rented in October.
Police want to speak to the 31-year-old man who rented them their rooms there – he has been named in Korean newspapers as Kim Kyo Soo and may have left London for Germany.
Police also revealed yesterday that both women were from highly respectable families. Miss Jin, the daughter of a retired policeman, was from a Catholic family 40km south west of Seoul in the Junju-Si province district.
Detectives are looking into the financial records of both women to see if their credit cards have been used. Friends of Miss Jin in France have suggested large sums were drawn in London and Paris.
The inquiry is understood to have ruled out the possibility that either woman was involved in prostitution, or that any kind of organised crime may have been behind the murder. There was no evidence from the body of Miss Jin that she had been sexually assaulted.