The Mystery Of A Wonderful Vacation That Ended In Tragedy

After Chris Smith had a wakeboarding accident that tore his ACL, it looked like he would just become another beach burnout. Fortunately, Smith refused to accept that fate. Instead, he fought hard to create an ideal life for himself. However, Smith's adventure didn't turn out quite the way he'd planned.

Smith was known for having an adamant life philosophy: you need to live for yourself. That doesn't mean "be selfish", but he didn't want to be a worker drone. His life plan was to start a business, get rich and take off on an adventure. Smith had finally reached a point where he could start moving in the right direction: starting a lucrative advertising business.

New Company With An Experienced Partner

Smith met Edward Shin in 2008. It was the start of a business called 800XChange that put customers in contact with several companies. It was an instant success, generating over $1 million in the first year. Shin had been around the block in terms of business. He had previously been the president of a similar advertising firm called LG Technologies, which Smith had also worked for. This seemed to be the best thing that had happened to Smith, but Shin had a bad history.

Wolf In Sheep's Clothing?

When they started their business, Shin was in the middle of an embezzlement lawsuit with LG Technologies. Extensive records showed that Shin had cheated several companies and business partners to reach his station. Shin was addicted to the rich life. He spent tons of time in Las Vegas, paying for beautiful women, and treating his partners to the good life.

No Longer A Worker Drone

Before long, Smith was itching to get out of 800XChange. In 2010, he confided in his brother and close friend that there was some weird stuff going on with his business. Smith was very aware of his partner's history and wanted out of the company. He decided to sign the company over to Shin but demanded Shin sign an agreement and pay Smtih $1 million in escrow. Shin agreed and signed the document at their office late on a Friday afternoon after all the other employees had left.

Vacation Forever!

Smith was finally free! Using his new money, he rented a yacht, took a pretty girl, and set out to sail the world. His family was happy he had escaped from all the stress. Smith's family was kept up-to-date about his adventures through hastily written emails. One day, he wrote he wanted to meet his brother in Costa Rica, one of their favorite beach spots. The email mentioned that first Smith was meeting a man about exchanging some rare currency. That was the last email Smith sent.

Startling Discoveries

After not hearing from Smith for a while, his family became suspicious. They contacted the place Smith usually stayed at in Costa Rica to ask if he had made a reservation— he hadn't. In 2011, his family reported him missing. To their dismay, the police found no record Smith had ever left the United States. The family talked to Shin since he would know what was going on with Smith on the business side.

Shin's Questioning

Shin was taken into questioning and said Smith was worried LG would come after him for embezzlement as well. To protect Smith, Shin had hooked him up with a from another state man to make him a fake identity so Smith could leave the country under an assumed name. Unfortunately, the man's phone was disconnected. Shin said he thought Smith was on the other side of the world and didn't want to be found. Shortly after, Shin skipped town, leaving $40,000 of unpaid rent on the office.

Different Story

Of course, the landlord was furious and discussed an investigation with another tenant a few doors down: Joe Dalu, a private investigator. Dalu knew the office well and decided to go inside for a look. When he entered the office, he found what he thought was blood on a door. When he entered the room, it was on the walls and the ceiling. He immediately put in a tip to the police, and they came to investigate.

Murder At The Office

Shin was arrested under the pretense of murder for financial gain. Shin changed his story about the day he signed the agreement with Smith. Instead of the humdrum event from before, he said Smith had trashed the office when he was drunk and Shin confronted him about it. The conversation became heated and came to blows. Shin hit Smith, and he hit his head on the desk. He wasn't moving and Shin assumed the worst. Shin said he called a friend to help him get rid of the body.

Shin's Fate

There was no evidence Shin contacted anyone to get rid of Smith's body for him. Shin's cell phone records show he traveled to somewhere along the Mexican border. The emails to Smith's family were revealed to be written by Shin. But, fabricating emails doesn't mean he was planning to murder Smith. However, the blood on the ceiling and walls pokes serious holes in Shin's story of Smith hitting his head on a desk. Due to delays in the legal system, Shin still hasn't been sentenced.