Columbia blogger to investigate unsolved MU murder

Friday, August 28, 2009 | 12:01 a.m. CDT
Mike Martin sits in front of a computer screen displaying his blog, The Columbia Heartbeat, in his home in June. Martin is going to begin investigating the 2005 unsolved murder of MU professor Jeong Im, inspired by a story he read about a blogger helping to solve a murder.

COLUMBIA — For nearly five years, the MU Police Department has strived to solve one of the grisliest and highest-profile murders in campus history. A local blogger now wants to give it a try.

Mike Martin announced this week on his blog, The Columbia Heart Beat, that he is launching his own investigation into the 2005 murder of MU professor Jeong Im.


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Martin said he was inspired by a story he read recently in The New York Times about a blogger who helped with a murder investigation in Florida. In that case, the citizen journalist wrote about new evidence on his blog and renewed attention to the crime.

Martin thinks the Im case is due for that type of investigation, which he said would not only be of interest to readers but would also be of service to the community.

“This murder case stands out like nothing else,” Martin said. “It was very high-profile and attention-getting. That makes it very interesting but also very important to get it solved.”

The body of the 72-year-old microbiologist was found on the afternoon of Jan. 7, 2005, in the trunk of his car in the Maryland Avenue parking garage. Im had been stabbed multiple times in the chest, and the car had been set on fire.

The MU Police Department initially received assistance investigating the case from the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad, a collection of officers from various law enforcement agencies. The squad completed its investigation in less than two weeks without identifying a suspect. The department also received assistance from Naval Criminal Investigative Service federal agents.

In October 2005, the MU Police Department released a photograph of the knife that investigators think was used to kill Im, as well as a description of a person of interest, who was described as a slender white man between 6-feet and 6-feet-2-inches tall.

Since then the case has become the longest unsolved homicide at MU. Capt. Brian Weimer of the MU Police Department said it’s still an active, open investigation.

“It’s on the minds of officers daily,” Weimer said. He added that the lead investigator is still working on the case and that MU is still offering a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest.

As for Martin’s investigation, Weimer hadn’t heard about it and was hesitant to comment. “Hopefully they’ll share information with us if they get it to help out with the investigation,” he said.

Martin is critical of how local law enforcement has handled — and news media have reported on — the case. He said there were holes in the investigation and coverage of the crime that he intends to address.

Martin revealed few specific details about how he will approach the project. He envisions a long-term “forum investigation” in which people share information and use the power of the Internet to work collaboratively.

Operating outside what he sees as the constraints of traditional news media, Martin intends to engage readers and collect and catalog as much information as possible. He also thinks the investigation could be an opportunity to introduce a new donation feature on his blog, so that readers who value the content can contribute financially to its production.

Judging by the response Martin has received from the community, he thinks he might be on to something. The original blog post on the issue has received 66 responses and 680 views since Tuesday.

Some current and former members of the MU community said that though they hadn’t yet heard of Martin’s plans, they think any contribution to the investigation could be helpful.

Former MU professor Henry Liu, who has been critical of the handling of the investigation, said that many people have likely forgotten about the murder. He said he worries that it could become a “cold case.”

Similarly, Kim Wise, a professor emeritus of molecular microbiology and immunology and a former colleague of Im’s, said he’s disappointed that the case still hasn’t been solved.

Martin said he doesn’t want the Im homicide to be forgotten.

“An unsolved murder like this sends a message that criminals can get away with this,” he said. “I don’t like that. Why is that right?”

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D H August 28, 2009 | 10:56 a.m.

Mike Martin the Blowhard.

"He also thinks the investigation could be an opportunity to introduce a new donation feature on his blog, so that readers who value the content can contribute financially to its production."

And now he wants a hand out too. Get over yourself, Mike - no one is going to pay you - if they were, you'd be working for the Missourian or the Trib.

He is nothing but a hack with a blog and a small column in a local business rag. Not a real reporter, and totally biased in his reports.

I'm tired of seeing his spam all over the place - you can't hit a locally based group site without his weekly beg being posted to visit his site - like any of us care...

(Report Comment)
Ali Tharmar August 28, 2009 | 11:26 a.m.

Marla D. H.:

Ya know, trying to be anonymous while taking swipes at people isn't cool.

You've attacked Mike and the Columbia Heart Beat on other forums as well, so much so that several people called your attacks unwarranted.

We all know why you did it, and none of us thought it was too cool.

InsaniDea indeed.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro August 28, 2009 | 12:38 p.m.

Mike Martin provides accurate, insightful investigative journalism as a seeker of truth and objectivity.
His reports provide a service and balance to this community's "old boy" network of power brokers.
It is his independence and entrepreneurship which allows him to be a "straight shooting" honest journalist.
(He's not beholding to anyone.)
I wish him much luck in his desire to facilitate a venue for solving MU professor Jeong Im's murder.
This town needs more people like Mike Martin.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz August 28, 2009 | 12:49 p.m.

In case you haven't figured it out yet InsaniDea, Mike Martin started most of the local Yahoo Groups that community issues are discussed on or was involved in their founding. If you don't like what he has to say on forums you don't own, ignore it, rebut it, or write better content.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 28, 2009 | 1:42 p.m.

Wow! Nasty body slam. Thanks for all the votes of confidence.

I have to assume M.D.H. doesn't like the Casenet, crime-blotter reporting that often appears in my stories.

If she has some problem with a story I wrote, or wants me to clarify something, she's welcome to contact me. I have email addresses on the blog.

That said, I don't remember mentioning her by her real name or in any other manner in any of my stories. Maybe I mentioned one of her friends. If I did, the circumstances must not have been very pleasant, but I report on a lot of unpleasant things -- like the Jeong Im murder. That's just the nature of journalism, and thank God for it.

As far as her anonymous, ongoing, ad hominem attacks, which kicked off last January if I recall -- yeah, they're mean, hurtful, pretty much suck, and a main reason so many people refuse to step up, step out, and get involved.

As far as being a no-account hack, I write for some of the finest publications in the world. People can check those out at If that makes me a hack, so be it.

-- Mike Martin

(Report Comment)
D H August 28, 2009 | 2:40 p.m.

We are all entitled to our opinions, and entitled to speak them.

I'm not really sure who you think I am, but the only place I've spoken out against Mike has been on the local FreeTalk board, which I joined in either May or June of this year. I consider his weekly posting of his "Beatboard" to be spam, nothing more. It might be different if he participated, you know, actually talked about any of the articles on these boards he is spamming, but he doesn't. It is post and run. A blatant attempt to bring people into his site, just like spam email. I spoke my opinion. Several people agreed, and several did not. A few were down right nasty about it. And Mike never made a peep in his own defense. Likely he wasn't even aware of it being discussed, BECAUSE FREETALK IS NOTHING BUT A BILLBOARD TO HIM.

That is as far as any previous participation goes. Oh, I visited his board, read a few articles, which I found to be bland, and somewhat biased. I don't know who you pissed off in January, but it wasn't me...

And then I saw this article. Where he decides to just up and solve a mystery. Oh, and dropping hints that he will be starting to ask for donations. That irked me too, so I spoke out.

Mike has never reported on me, or to my knowledge, anyone I even know personally. But he can insinuate all he likes.

No ulterior motives here like others have suggested, either - not really sure what you're on about there. Based on my experience, and what I've read in his blog, I think he is a blowhard and a hack. That's my opinion. Worth just as much as anyone else's here ;)

Anyway, I'm done on the subject :)
Have a nice day.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 28, 2009 | 3:24 p.m.

Stealing, failure to appear in court, husband passing bad checks. IMHO, your credibility is absolutely zero.

As far as the attacks, I'm tired of them and so are the rest of us. I mean, six months of this? It's not a case of someone just "expressing an opinion" after a certain point.

(Report Comment)
Mike Martin August 28, 2009 | 3:51 p.m.

One more thing -- the content of my Beat Byte/Heart Beat emails is self-contained -- no one has to visit my site to read them. And since I don't sell anything, I don't know why I would care if they did or not.

Another zero credibility argument.

(Report Comment)
Maria Oropallo August 28, 2009 | 4:40 p.m.

Mike reports and writes on a number of topics that affect the lives of the citizens of Columbia. I have been very appreciative of his and Tracy's articles using the Freedom of Information Act to highlight some not so wonderful goings-on in Columbia. Those articles have motivated many people to at the least become more engaged and at the most become more vigilant to how we are governed.

This latest project he is undertaking could very likely solve the murder which haunts Professor Im's family. That is noble.

Insanidea - Beat Byte board has become a place where real people are talking to each other. Many of us come from polar ends of the political spectrum, yet we can have respectful and sometimes humorous conversations about topics that affect us all. It's a shame you can't see that.

~Maria Oropallo

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr August 28, 2009 | 5:06 p.m.

D H what flavor and age of cheese do you usually love to enjoy with your whine? :)

(Report Comment)

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