Skip to main content
Skip to navigation

Jan. 31, 2013 Volume 34, No. 17

Campus murder in 2005 solved, MU Police say

Alternate text

MU Police Capt. Brian Weimer briefs reporters on the solving of the case of the murder of Jeong H. Im, a retired MU assistant research professor at the School of Medicine. Photo by Nicholas Benner

Parking Garage Killing

DNA evidence key to solving case

Eight years ago, the MU community was shocked by a gruesome killing of a retired research assistant professor in a parking garage in the light of day.

Despite some 300 leads investigated by the MU Police Department, the killing of Jeong H. Im, a retired MU assistant professor at the School of Medicine, went unsolved until recently. MU Police Chief Jack Watring announced Wednesday that the killer was Timothy Aaron Hoag, described as having a violent history. 

Last August, at the age of 35, Hoag committed suicide by jumping off a downtown parking garage.

In a statement, the family of Im, who use the Korean surname Ihm, thanked MU police and the other law enforcement agencies involved in solving the case. “This brings closure on the tragedy to our family, as well as to the University of Missouri and Columbia communities as a whole,” the statement said.

MU Chancellor Brady J. Deaton expressed his “heartfelt compassion” for the Ihm family, given the years the case went unsolved. Its resolution “is the most important news we will hear this year,” he said. 

The breakthrough came Dec. 21, 2012, when MU Police received a tip that Hoag had committed the murder. Investigators obtained his blood sample and sent it to a crime lab for analysis. Hoag’s DNA matched that found at the crime scene.

The murder of Im on Jan. 7, 2005, was so unnerving to the community in part because it was so brazen.

At about 10:30 a.m., the 72-year-old Im is seen on grainy surveillance video leaving the School of Medicine en route to the Maryland Avenue Parking Structure. Two hours later,  police and firefighters arrive on Level 3 of the garage, where Im’s 1996 Honda Accord was on fire. 

Im’s body was found in the trunk. He had been stabbed to death, stuffed in the trunk and the vehicle set on fire, investigators determined.

The Dec. 21 tip led to another person, the name of whom police have not released, who claims to have been with Hoag on the day of the murder, MU Police Capt. Brian Weimer said. He drove Hoag to the garage twice on Jan. 7, 2005, though he claims he did not know Hoag had murdered someone.

On the second drive, Hoag was left off on Level 2 of the Maryland Avenue garage and, with gas container in hand, proceeded upstairs to Level 3. When Hoag returned, the driver told police, he was wearing a particle facemask and a hood over his head. As they drove away, the driver noticed smoke billowing from Level 3. 

The driver never came forward “out of fear for his family’s safety,” Weimer said.