Police following leads in slaying on MU campus

Tuesday, January 11, 2005

COLUMBIA, Mo. -- Detectives from around mid-Missouri chased dozens of leads Monday in the death of a retired University of Missouri-Columbia professor, found stabbed to death in the trunk of his burning car.

Firefighters discovered the body of Jeong Hyok Im, 72, while responding Friday to a vehicle fire in the school's Maryland Avenue parking garage. Im is the first homicide victim on the campus of the state's largest university in 16 years.

The case is being investigated by the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad, which has drawn 28 investigators from 11 law enforcement agencies in central Missouri, including the Missouri State Highway Patrol and the Columbia and Jefferson City police departments.

"The squad continues to follow up on leads provided and we are still asking for the public's assistance in solving this case," Weimer said in a statement. "Even the smallest detail may be a crucial piece of evidence."

Police said they are looking for an unidentified person of interest, believed to be a male, about 6 feet tall, who was seen near the parking garage carrying some type of gas can and possibly wearing a painter's mask. Investigators have not ruled out robbery as a motive.

Boone County Medical Examiner Valerie Rao said the retired research professor sustained multiple stab wounds, but declined to elaborate. Police have also declined to discuss if a weapon was recovered from the fire.

Im, originally from South Korea, earned a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill in 1967 and did research at Harvard Medical School for two years before moving on to faculty positions at the State University of New York-Buffalo, Ohio State University, Cornell University and the University of Alabama-Birmingham.

In 1987, Im started as a research professor at Missouri in the departments of pharmacology and microbiology.

"There are a few people on campus with that expertise, but not many of them," said Mark McIntosh, chairman of the school's department of molecular microbiology and immunology. "It will be a big loss."

A memorial service is scheduled for 10 a.m. Tuesday at Memorial Funeral Home in Columbia. A service on the campus is also planned.

Im is survived by his wife, Tesuk Im, the director of library services at Linn State Technical College in Linn, Mo.; and twin adult daughters.

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