Two 18-year-olds have been arrested and charged with the murder of Arizona State University professor Junseok Chae, who has been missing since March and was recently found dead in a landfill.
The discovery of his body on July 17 led police to arrest the Gabrielle Austin and Javian Ezelle, both 18-year-olds, who were discovered by Shreveport police in Louisiana.
The search cost upwards of a quarter of a million dollars and had involved long hours searching a landfill since May 11, CBS-5 reported.
Authorities Believe Chae Was Killed And Put In A Dumpster
According to local news station CBS-5, Chae was reported missing March 25, after he never returned home from work.
MSN reported that someone called in a suspicious vehicle in Shreveport, Louisiana; that car was Chae’s car and when officers pulled it over, they found three people were sitting inside, including 18-year-old Javian Ezell and 18-year-old Gabrielle Austin. After speaking to the three, officers began to believe Chae might have been killed.
Shreveport police contacted the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office in Arizona and, according to a statement referenced in People magazine, the investigation led them to believe that “Chae’s body was placed in a dumpster by the suspects and was ultimately deposited in the Northwest Regional Landfill.”
Police began a search of that landfill in the town of Surprise, Arizona on May 11. The search would go on for months, “averaging 15 people per day for about 10 hours per day,” CBS-5 reported. The station also reported that 1,400 dump truckloads of trash were moved and even not including man-hours, the cost was $304,500.
When Chae’s body was found on July 17, Ezell and Austin were arrested and charged with first-degree murder, armed robbery and car theft; they are each facing a $1 million bond, People magazine reported. After interrogating them, officials said that they believe the teenagers killed Chae near Carefree Highway and Seventh Street and threw his body in a dumpster that was eventually taken to a landfill.
No motive has been released yet.
“I continue to be impressed by the hard work of our deputies. Their perseverance in an extremely complex and demanding case will now allow the victim’s family closure to what has surely been a difficult period. Investigative efforts to recover a body from a landfill are rarely successful,” said Sheriff Penzone in a statement, according to ABC-15.
Chae Was Respected And Appreciated By Many Of His Students
Junsoek Chae, was a professor and the associated dean for research at Arizona State University’s Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering, according to his LinkedIn profile. He earned his bachelor’s at a university in Korea and between 1998 and 2003, he earned a Ph.D. in Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Michigan and had been working at Arizona State as a professor since 2005.
According to his Arizona State University profile, Chae was responsible for writing 77 articles, 66 conference contributions and six patents. His most recent projects had completion dates far into the future – one with the National Science Foundation was supposed to end July 31 and another, an National Institutes of Health project on miniaturized pacemakers was to be completed May 31, 2022.
The site stated that his work was cited more than 2,500 times and most of his work was in the arena of health-related electronics.
Chae had a fairly high rating on the popular college site, Rate My Professor, with a 3.9/5 and 92% of students saying they would take his class again. One student who gave him a five, wrote, “He is always super helpful. You can print the lecture slides beforehand and write his notes on the printout. The lecture problems play directly into the quizzes and exams. Stories are good. Homeworks can be tough depending on material. Out of all my classes I liked this one the most. time is a factor on quizzes and tests. Really Good teacher.” Another student also said he was a good teacher, but wasn’t a big fan of his personality: “Dr. Chae is not known for being a nice person though,” the student wrote. “He told a student that they have no chance of getting into any good grad schools because ASU is a joke.”
Since his disappearance, some (former) students have left ratings thanking him. One student wrote:
Dr. Chae was one of the best professors Ive ever had. He cared about everyone, and expected the best out of us. I wish I couldve told him how much he inspired and impacted me. A truly amazing man and professor. May he Rest In Peace.”
Junseok chae, Well he managed to give me the inspiration to push through with EE because of his passion with his work. I don’t want to give the impression that i’m only saying this cause he passed on but this is who he truly was. He also talked a little bit about his family and they have my sympathy. I will continue in EE and do right by him.
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