The case of a missing Arizona State University professor who vanished in March took a dark turn on Friday as police announced the discovery of his remains in a landfill, allegedly dumped by two Louisiana teenagers.
Junseok Chae, associate dean for research at ASU’s School of Engineering, was reported missing March 25 when he didn’t return home from work at the university. Authorities began searching a dump in Surprise, Arizona on May 11, but only discovered his body on July 17 after a weeks-long manhunt that involved dozens of people working 15-hour shifts and cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Police say they also found related evidence in the landfill.
Two teenagers, Javian Ezell, 19, and Gabrielle Austin, 18, were arrested in Shreveport, Louisiana after allegedly being caught driving the professor’s car. They face charges of first-degree murder, vehicle theft, and armed robbery.
Police say the two allegedly killed Chae before leaving his body in a dumpster, which was then emptied out in the landfill. The motive and means of the alleged murder were not immediately clear, and police have not disclosed what relation, if any, the two teens had to the professor.
Each is being held on a $1 million bond after extradition to Arizona.
Chae, who received his undergraduate degree in South Korea, had worked at ASU researching and teaching electrical engineering and computer science since 2005. He held four patents, had published more than 150 academic papers, and authored a book, according to ASU’s website.
A university spokesperson said in a statement, “We are saddened by the loss of ASU community member Junseok Chae. Our condolences go out to professor Chae’s family and friends.”