Wednesday, September 23, 2009

IM MURDER: Victim's daughter silent after initial interview interest

Jean Ihm
COLUMBIA, 9/23/09  (Interview)  --  On September 2nd, I emailed Jeong Im's daughter, Jean Ihm, who works at Oracle.  I wanted to know if she'd be willing to speak with me about her father.   After initially expressing interest, she was suddenly silent, in a move that mirrored the MU police department. 

"In general, we haven't been talking about the case with the press very much," Ihm responded about 10 days later.  "University of Missouri administration and law enforcement organizations have been handling the inquiries from the press."  

She also opened a door a tiny way.  "Could you provide some more background about the angle that you would plan to take in an article, your perspective on the case to date, and the objective of the article you have in mind?" she wrote, thanking me for my interest in the case.  

I followed up with my background, credentials, and interest in her father's case.  "As a journalist, I first became troubled when the MU police suddenly stopped what was a regular information flow -- knife, suspect sketch, boot prints, etc., all reported in a timely fashion with a repeatedly stated goal:  to engage the public in the resolution.

"Then -- nothing.

"In turning to this case as an ongoing investigative series, I realize I will always lack the information law enforcement officials can obtain, but I can re-ignite awareness, and try to cover angles other media organizations may have missed.

"I've already generated several credible tips in the case, and will continue to pursue and report such. Naturally, anything I turn up that may aid the investigation goes to the MU police as well.

"Finally, I'm keenly aware of the need to be sensitive, and I'm sympathetic with concerns about reopening a painful subject, but only to a point. Beyond that point, the reasons to pursue this seem obvious -- justice, fairness, safety, closure, healing -- for Dr. Im's family, his friends, his colleagues, the University.

"I just realized, though, that I've been forgetting the most important reason of all:  Your father was a scientist who spent his life pursuing the truth about unknown things.  I believe he would want this resolved, no matter how painful the truth, especially now, as the years have allowed much reflection and some healing, but no closure. 

"I believe he would want the world to know what happened and why."

Several days later, I heard from Ihm again.  

"Thank you for providing this detailed background about yourself, your journalism in general, your view about my father's case, and your motivation for the work; appreciate it," Jean Ihm responded.  "It will take some time for me to review and absorb this information."

I did not hear from Jean Ihm after that.  

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