Orange County sheriff's investigators Monday announced the arrest of a 33-year-old Irvine man suspected of killing his business partner last year in the San Juan Capistrano office they shared.
Ed Younghoon Shin was being held without bail in Orange County jail on suspicion of murdering 32-year-old Christopher Ryan Smith.
The two were co-owners of 800 Exchange, a company that generated media leads for advertisers, Orange County Assistant Sheriff Mark Billings said at a news conference in Santa Ana. After working together for about two years, the two had a dispute about the business and Smith wanted out, Billings said.
The business partners had apparently agreed Smith would be paid $1 million upon leaving the company, but Shin killed him in the office they shared to avoid doing so, Billings alleged.
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Smith was last seen alive in June of last year, he said, alleging that Shin "went to great lengths" to cover up the evidence of the crime, including painting over blood stains.
Shin also used Smith's email account to masquerade as the victim and delude his family into thinking he was still alive and on an "extended vacation," Billings alleged.
Shin was arrested about 11 a.m. Sunday at Los Angeles International Airport as he was about to board a flight for Canada, Orange County sheriff's investigator Don Voght said.
It wasn't "100 percent clear" why Shin was headed to Canada, Billings said, adding he could have been leaving the country for business reasons.
Smith's family grew suspicious in April and hired a private investigator to find him, Billings said. Shortly after that, he was reported missing to Laguna Beach police, Voght said.
Laguna Beach police asked Orange County sheriff's deputies to take over the case on Aug. 17 because it was determined the murder happened in San Juan Capistrano, where blood evidence was found in the suspect's office earlier this month, Voght said.
Smith's car was found in San Jose, but investigators declined to say when. Sheriff's investigators got access to the car this weekend, Voght said.
Investigators would not disclose the cause of death, but there was a "fair amount of blood" in the office, Billings said.
The body has not been recovered, and investigators asked anyone with information to call 714-647-7048 or 714-628-7170.
Before the two formed their business partnership, Shin was convicted of embezzlement in Riverside County and was forced to pay restitution and ordered to serve three years of probation, according to Billings.