Junseok Chae: Missing Arizona Professor Believed to Be Homicide Victim

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Junseok Chae, an Arizona State University professor who has been missing since late March, is now suspected to be the victim of a homicide.

Although a local news source reported Wednesday afternoon that Chae’s body was found, it now reports that while there’s still no body, new evidence has been discovered pointing to homicide. An investigation is ongoing.


New Evidence Led Police to a Local Landfill; The ASU Professor Is Believed to Be a Victim of Homicide

Officials have said they believe Chae is the victim of a homicide, but his body has not yet been found. The Northwest Regional Landfill in Surprise, Arizona, is closed while police investigate, according to 12 News.

12 News originally reported that local detectives said Chae’s body was found at the landfill on Wednesday, May 13. The news source later said his body was not found, but the landfill was being searched for evidence.

Heavy has contacted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for clarification.

You can see a map of the landfill’s location at the link here. A screenshot of the map is below.

Google Maps

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office told 12 News that evidence led them to the landfill, where they found signs of foul play. Associated Press reported that the professor was presumed dead.

Investigators have said he was the victim of a homicide but have not released any additional information about what led them to this conclusion, AZ Family reported. The landfill is near 195th Avenue and Deer Valley Road in Surprise, Arizona.

Chae went missing earlier this year, The Telegraph reported. His case was first investigated on March 25 before being handed off to homicide detectives on March 29. Details of when he went missing and the circumstances surrounding his disappearance have not yet been shared. Investigators said releasing additional information would put the case at risk, The Telegraph reported.


Chae Is an Electrical Engineering Professor at Arizona State University & Associate Dean for Research

LinkedIn

Chae is an electrical engineering professor at Arizona State University’s Tempe campus. He joined the faculty in 2005, The Telegraph reported. According to his LinkedIn bio, he was working as Associate Dean for Research at the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU when he went missing. His LinkedIn bio notes that he had the position for nearly three years, after first joining ASU in 2005 as a professor.

ASU

His bio on ASU’s website lists him as a faculty member at the Tempe campus in the School of Electrical, Computer and Energy Engineering. His expertise is in biosensors for point-of-care technologies and sensing systems, remote sensing and genetic circuits and sensors. His ASU bio notes: “His areas of interests are wearable sensors and actuators, miniaturized biomedical wireless sensors and systems.”

He has a Ph.D. from the University of Michigan in Electrical and Electronics Engineering, his LinkedIn bio notes. According to his ASU bio, he received his bachelor’s degree in metallurgical engineering from Korea University in Seoul in 1998, his master’s in 2000 from the University of Michigan and his doctorate in 2003. He was an assistant professor when he first joined ASU in 2005 and became associate dean as of 2020.

Chae was very successful in his field. According to his ASU bio, he had published more than 150 journal and conference articles, had written a book and had four U.S. patents. He received a first-place prize at the Design Automation Conference in 2001 and received a National Science Foundation CAREER award for a MEMS protein sensor array, his ASU bio notes.

Chae had a 3.9 out of 5 rating on Rate My Professors, with many students saying he was an excellent professor and 90% saying they would have taken a course from him again. One student wrote, in part: “Chae is the best professor I have had from ASU so far and I am a junior. … He does a great job of first explaining a topic telling you not to worry about writing anything and just listening then explaining it further in an actual example. Highly recommend Chae.”

Another student wrote in January 2019: “He is always super helpful. … Out of all my classes I liked this one the most. … Really good teacher.”

More details about why he went missing or what evidence led to investigators’ suspecting homicide have not yet been shared publicly.

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