The family of presumed murder victim Christopher Ryan Smith and the Orange County Sheriff's Department have collaborated to create a blog post they hope will lead to the discovery of his body.
Posted by sheriff's spokesman John McDonald on the OC Sheriff Blog, the resource includes photographs and video of Smith and a long statement about him and the murder case by his family.
Before the video and photos, the statement ends with, "The past year has been an otherworldly time spent overwhelmed with misinformation and uncertainty. As the truth behind events is revealed, we ask for privacy as we cope with the surge of emotions and begin to grieve. We miss you Chris, we love you, and will see you again in Heaven."
Meanwhile, the man sheriff's homicide investigators say has confessed to Smith's murder--but has not given up the location of the body--sent the family dozens of emails posing as Smith and recounting adventures in South Africa and plans to continue traveling.
Something about them did not sound right to family members who hired a private investigator to help find the 33-year-old. Sheriff's and Laguna Beach Police officials now say those emails were sent by Edward Shin after his business partner Smith was dead.
Another sheriff's spokesman, Jim Amormino, this week called Shin "a con man." He is accused of bumping off Smith to avoid paying $1 million he owed to buy his partner out at 800xchange, a San Juan Capistrano sales lead generation firm. The Weekly story above includes details about a fraud case involving another lead generation firm Shin worked at that resulted in his being ordered to pay $700,000 in restitution. And KABC in Los Angeles heard this week from someone who claims Shin ripped him off for $500,000 when they were partners at a mortgage business called Residential Finance America in 2003.
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Identifying himself only as "Brian," the man explained to KABC's reporter that he attended Shin's arraignment, which was continued to Sept. 28, for "closure."
"He doesn't care about anybody but himself," Brian told KABC. "He lived off of our money until we found out and when I confronted him, he basically just disappeared on us.
"I'm thankful that . . . I can make money again. Someone's lost far greater than what we lost."
Shin could get the death penalty if convicted.