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Inside the Mind of the Killer

Justice for Chris Smith and the Conviction of Edward Shin – Part Three

Nobody owns life, but anyone who can pick up a frying pan owns death.”

-William S. Burroughs

“All the motives for murder are covered by the four Ls: Love, Lust, Lucre and Loathing.”

-P.D. James

If you’ve kept up with these blogs, you’ve been reading about evidence that led us to the conviction of Edward Shin, murderer of Chris Smith. So far, you know that the Orange County Sheriff’s Department became involved because of blood found at the 800xchange office suite.

Now, we, as “average” people, have a hard time relating to the act of murder. Oh, we may use the word “murder” offhandedly when we’re mad at someone, but how many people do you know who really do it?

The minds of most murderers are quite orderly, I would think. Most murderer’s thoughts are centered around themselves, their wants, their needs. Caring about others never enters the picture.

Narcissism, though not exclusively reserved for the murderer, seems to be a common thread. Taking another’s life for no other reason than to make their life easier is the highest form of narcissism.

To gain financially, permanently resolve marital problems, take revenge for being spurned or to end someone’s life simply out of sheer hatred, whether warranted or not, is the highest form of selfishness. After all, it’s all about them.

Edward Shin is just such a man.

As you undoubtedly realize, where we previously left off wasn’t the actual beginning of this story, but merely the beginning of our involvement at PGI.

As the Orange County Sheriff’s Department began their investigation, they quickly realized this case would probably rest on circumstantial evidence. And there was plenty of it.

Let’s backtrack a bit.

For months prior to our entering the former 800Xchange offices, Chris Smith’s family had been receiving emails seemingly from him (Chris). Although the tone of the emails sounded like Chris, the gist of most of them had no personal information. As a matter of fact, after reading them all, what struck me was the absence of warmth.

There was never any mention of concern of even curiosity about what his family was up to. Most spoke of his travel plans, legal matters, his mental condition and making money. Strange for a person who had a very close relationship with his family.

As stated earlier, Ed Shin was in debt to his former employer, LG Technology, after embezzling $700,000, and Chris was being dragged into the legal entangling. There was also Leadpoint, a company where both Chris and Ed had worked that was apparently filing a lawsuit against both.

(I’m not going to go too deep in the details of this case. I’ll try to keep it as simple as possible. The emails are repetitive and too convoluted to write them all down. I’ll only use what’s pertinent to the case.)

Chris Smith’s father, Steven Smith, was the first to believe something was off. As he began to ask questions about the circumstances surrounding his son’s departure, and his desire to leave family, girlfriend and business behind, and go on an unplanned trek across the globe, Steven’s suspicions grew.

According to the correspondence, Steven learned Chris had sold his share of the business to his partner, Ed Shin, in June 2010; Chris dumped his long-time girlfriend; and then he left the country with a woman named Tiffany Taylor.

Chris’s family understood Chris was financing his global jaunt with a down payment for his part of the business and a stash of gold coins he had purchased previously. Chris’s reasons for leaving were mostly stress and legal related, as far as his family was concerned.

After many emails from Chris to his family and friends, on December 26th, 2010, all correspondence stopped. On April 18th, 2011, his worried father filed a missing person’s report with the Laguna Beach Police Department.

What Steven quickly discovered was that Chris’s passport had not been used to leave the country. Now Steven began to really question this whole disappearance of Chris and his “desire” to travel the world.

The sequence of events concerning Chris Smith’s last days are a bit sketchy. Ed Shin was the last one to see Chris alive, so we understand the facts only by what Ed chose to admit at his murder trial.

Here’s what we know.

Chris dropped off his brother, Paul Smith, at the airport and planned to pick him up when he returned. Chris never showed up. This was not like him to not show without a call.

When Paul, who also worked at 800Xchange called the office, he was told by Ed Shin that Chris had left the country. Ed also claimed Chris had gotten drunk and urinated and then vomited on the floor, and he had to have carpet cleaned because the office smelled.

Ed gave all the employees a week off while he had the offices painted.

Emails from Chris to family and friends soon began.

If all this sounds and feels a little strange, your feelings would be accurate. Although a bit hurt that Chris had left without saying good-bye, his family, at first, seem satisfied by the emails Chris continued to send regarding his whereabouts.

When the emails suddenly stopped, their thoughts about Chris’s world travels began to change. As I said before, the emails were too numerous and repetitious to record verbatim, but when you look back at the timeline and global mapping of Chris’s travels, the roadmap of his trip seemed odd. Chris appeared to be crisscrossing the globe in a random pattern, as though he was purposely making any real contact with him nearly impossible.

Quite a few of Chris’s emails mentioned how he was angry about goings on with 800Xchange, but also happiness about the development of his new software that would make him rich.

Chris’s final emails mentioned he would be heading for Cape Town, South Africa, with some friends he had just met. Chris also stated he was selling gold coins along the way to continue financing his trip.

Even while reading these emails secondhand, all the various country trips and what he was stating seemed extremely unwise.

If this were a novel, you’d be screaming at the protagonist to not go, knowing there was no way this would end well.

But perhaps that’s how it was meant to look. Maybe Ed was writing these emails this way to control what we were supposed to think. Narcissism and the master manipulator.

So, would there really be an alarm sounded if Chris suddenly disappeared off the face of the earth? Not with how the emails were scribed. Possibly our news stations might broadcast: Young American male disappeared from Cape Town, carrying gold coins and traveling with strangers. He has not been seen nor has contact been made for weeks. Family worried.

Next time: A father sounds the alarm.


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