Family appeals for help in finding slain executive's body
The family of murder victim Christopher Ryan Smith appealed to the public to help Orange County Sheriff's Department homicide detectives recover his body, missing since his slaying in San Juan Capistrano in June.
The 32-year-old advertising executive's family believed he was on an African adventure last year, based on his emails recounting paragliding near Johannesburg and sand-boarding in "huge mines" in South Africa before heading north to Congo and Rwanda. Then the emails abruptly stopped.
Now Orange County authorities say Smith was never in Africa; in fact, he was already dead. They say he was killed inside his office in San Juan Capistrano by his business partner, Edward Younghoon Shin, who used Smith's email account to send the messages.
Shin was arrested earlier this week and charged in connection with Smith's death. The charges capped an investigation that began several months ago. Officials said Shin has confessed to the killing but did not reveal where Smith's remains are
Authorities also arrested Shin's personal assistant this week for allegedly helping Shin dispose of Smith's belongings and vehicle. He has pleaded not guilty. Shin has not entered a plea, and neither he nor his attorney could be reached for comment.
Steven Smith, Christopher father, said "our family wants Christopher's remains back. We want to know where Christopher is. Someone out there can help us."
He said the family is still reeling, trying to understand what happened. "Those emails were a small part of the trauma he [Shin] put our family through," he said. "It was just horrendous. It went on for months. ... [Shin] led us everywhere but the truth."
He said anybody with information on the case is asked to call the Orange County Sheriff's Department homicide unit at (714)-647-4578. Information calls can also be placed to 1-(866)-TIP-OCSD (1-(866)-847-6273).
-- Richard Winton
Photo: Christopher Ryan Smith. Credit: Smith family