Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office deputies have determined ASU Professor Jun Seok Chae, who was found dead July 17 in the Northwest Regional Landfill, was killed near Carefree Highway and Seventh Street.
Chae was reported missing to the ASU Police Department after he did not return home from work. On March 30, MSCO detectives were contacted by the Shreveport, Louisiana, police department.
Shreveport police officers responded to a suspicious vehicle call, contacting 18-year-old Javian Ezell, 18-year-old Gabrielle Austin and a third individual. Officers determined the vehicle belonged to Chae and obtained statements from the suspects, which led them to believe Chae was a homicide victim.
MCSO detectives determined Chae’s body was placed in a dumpster by the suspects and was ultimately deposited in the Northwest Regional Landfill. MCSO conducted a landfill search from May 11 to July 17, when his body was found with related evidence.
Ezell and Austin were extradited to Arizona and are in MCSO custody. They were booked into MCSO jail with a bond of $1 million for each charge—first-degree murder, armed robbery and theft of means of transportation.
“I continue to be impressed by the hard work of our deputies,” Sheriff Paul Penzone said. “Their perseverance in an extremely complex and demanding case will now allow the victim’s family closure to what has surely been a difficult period. Investigative efforts to recover a body from a landfill are rarely successful. The Herculean efforts by deputies in this case cannot be overstated.”
MCSO received assistance from the ASU, Phoenix, Surprise and Buckeye police departments. Detectives also received help from the Army National Guard (Hazmat 91st), Waste Management Inc. and Rummel Construction, who provided heavy equipment and excavated the search area.