Police are looking for two sport utility vehicles seen in the Maryland Avenue parking garage around the time MU researcher Jeong Im was found stabbed to death in his burning car on Friday.
MU Police Department Capt. Brian Weimer said in a statement Sunday afternoon that the first vehicle, a blue SUV, was parked in the third-level driving lane of the garage. The second SUV, of unknown color, was parked with its back hatch open. A man and a woman were standing next to it, according to the statement.
“We’re hoping to identify whose vehicles they are, so we can talk to those people,” Wei-mer said in an interview later.
However, Weimer emphasized that the two cars are not considered suspect vehicles. Investigators are trying to identify anyone who might be able to help establish when Im’s white Honda Accord was in the garage. The car was discovered burning in the northwest corner of the third-level shortly before 12:30 p.m. Friday.
After extinguishing the minor blaze, firefighters found Im’s body in the trunk.
A Saturday autopsy determined that Im died from multiple stab wounds to the chest.
MU Police are conducting a homicide investigation with help from 28 members of the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad, which includes officers from 11 law enforcement agencies. It is the first homicide investigation on the MU campus since 1988.
Investigators are still seeking a “person of interest” spotted near the garage. They are looking for a man between 6 feet and 6 feet 2 inches tall, whose face was covered by what appeared to be a painter’s mask or drywall mask. Weimer said he did not know whether any painting or drywall work was under way near the garage. He had no further information on the individual, such as race, hair color or what he was wearing.
Im, 72, had retired from MU but came back to work part time in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology.
Department Chairman Mark McIntosh said Im’s work consisted of making proteins for other researchers.
McIntosh said Im’s proteins went primarily to researchers in his department or in the Department of Pharmacology, where Im first worked when he came to MU. The lab where Im worked is on the sixth floor of the Medical Sciences Building, near the garage where his body was found.
McIntosh said police have spoken with him and the five to six others who work in his lab, and he is satisfied with their investigation thus far.
Police are “asking all the right questions and trying to find out how people spent their day,” he said.
Weimer said investigators are trying to reconstruct a timeline of Im’s whereabouts Friday morning, but he did not know how many leads they had followed.
“Any little thing could be what we’re looking for,” he said.
Calls to the home of Im’s family went unanswered Sunday.
Police are asking anyone with information to call MU Police at 882-7203 or CrimeStoppers at 875-TIPS.