Christopher Ryan Smith, Missing Man Said to be Murdered by Business Partner, Subject of Search That May Have Yielded Clues

Orange County authorities say items found during the search for the body of Christopher Ryan Smith in southern San Diego County over the weekend may be evidence tied to the Laguna Beach 31-year-old's murder in 2010.

Edward Younghoon Shin, Smith's 32-year-old business partner, allegedly confessed to the slaying but reportedly has not indicated where he put the body.

About 125 deputies and volunteers combed an area of Boulevard, which is near the border and two miles south of Route 94, all day Saturday. Orange County sheriff's officials would not indicate what exactly was found or if human remains were included.

Edward Younghoon Shin, an Irvine family man, allegedly killed his partner.
Edward Younghoon Shin, an Irvine family man, allegedly killed his partner.
Courtesy of the Orange County Sheriff's Department

Shin is said to have confessed to killing Smith to get out of paying $1 million to dissolve the partner's interest in the Internet advertising firm 800xchange. Homicide investigators believe Smith was murdered in their San Juan Capistrano offices before his body was moved.

The accused left Smith's family and friends email messages that were claimed to be from him as he traveled the world. His family figured out it was not Smith sending the messages and pressed cops and private investigators to probe the disappearance. The eventually led to the 800xchange offices and traces of blood and other clues that led to Shin's arrest for murder.

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After the Irvine family man's reported confession, his assistant, Kenny Roy Kraft, was arrested as an accomplice, accused of disposing of some of Smith's property.

Despite having enough evidence to charge the pair, authorities still had no body. Smith's family and the Orange County Sheriff's Department collaborated last year on an OC Sheriff's Blog page aimed at generating leads that would hopefully uncover the body. No one is yet saying how the trail ended up in tiny Boulevard.

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