Former California businessman Edward Shin was convicted of murdering his former business partner and was sentenced to life in prison. The case was featured on an episode of ABC’s 20/20, which is being rebroadcast tonight, August 7, 2020.
In the episode, ABC News chief national correspondent Matt Gutman sat down for a jailhouse interview with the convicted murderer in which he opens up about killing Cristopher Smith, his shady past, and why he has remained silent about the location of Chris Smith’s body.
The story is also told in 20/20’s podcast “Cutthroat Inc,” which is also hosted by Gutman.
Shin Posed as Smith After The Murder Via Emails
TONIGHT: Ruthless, Diabolical, Money & Murder | ‘Cutthroat Inc.’ The story of two California friends whose business partnership took a deadly turn. WATCH the 20/20 encore with @MattGutmanABC starting at 9|8c on ABC. pic.twitter.com/02slF9AkY7
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) August 7, 2020
According to ABC News, Shin sent emails to Chris Smith’s family, girlfriend, friends and grandfather over the period of six months in 2010. He told them that he’d sold his share of the company where the two worked and was traveling the world on a chartered yacht alongside a Playboy Playmate and “a stack of gold coins.”
Since Smith was already a surfer who had dreamed of traveling and had actually been investing in gold coins before his death, it wasn’t a long shot for the family that the story could be true.
The story held up until early 2011 when Smith’s family brought in a computer expert to analyze the data in the emails they had been receiving. The expert discovered that all of the messages had been sent from the United States, which didn’t match up with the story of Smith traveling the world.
Investigators then performed forensic tests at the office, and they found large amounts of blood that former Orange County Senior District Attorney Matt Murphy compared to “helter-skelter.” A few months later, the DNA was matched to Chris Smith.
Later, Shin confessed to accidentally killing his former business partner but denies the idea that he tried to intentionally murder him in the office of the business the two shared. He said that Smith fell and accidentally hit his head on a desk, which caused the fatal injury. Murphy said that was a lie.
Shin Said He Doesn’t Know Where Smith’s Body Is
“It was just like someone that was just very conflicted.” Paul Smith recalls receiving emails his brother Chris supposedly sent while on his global travels. #ABC2020 unravels the mystery – tomorrow at 9/8c on ABC. https://t.co/NVQIXM08gZ pic.twitter.com/ftztGO0uoi
— 20/20 (@ABC2020) August 6, 2020
In the jailhouse interview, Shin insisted he did not know where Smiths’ body was and said he could not provide more details.
“I can’t talk about that… because I don’t know,” he said on 20/20. “There is no way I can get into that at this point… I wish I could tell you more, but there’s something bigger that I just can’t talk about.”
He told police and testified at the trial that he paid an Eastern European man thousands of dollars to dispose of Smith’s body, but he said that he could not identify the man because he never asked for his name.
Investigators believe based on evidence from Smith’s Range Rover and Shin’s cellphone records that Smith drove the body out to the desert and left it there, but Shin said that evidence actually points to him driving to Mexico to flee and not getting rid of a body.
Shin was allegedly in a bad spot with money prior to the murder. In May 2010, he agreed to pay $800,000 to settle a civil case against him from LG Technologies, but he needed a sign-off from Smith to have access to the funds. Authorities also believed that Shin had been racking up gambling debts in Las Vegas.
“Ed Shin was in a corner,” Murphy said. “The way he could solve his problems, financially, business-wise, everything else, is murder Chris Smith, make him disappear and take all of his money.”
In December 2018, Shin was convicted of first-degree murder and was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.