An explosion at a co-worker alters a relationship forever
COLUMBIA, 9/21/09 (Beat Byte) -- It doesn't take much reading between the lines of local news stories about MU biochemist Jeong Im to see that he wasn't always a pussycat.
Im was murdered January 7, 2005, stabbed to death in an MU parking garage. The possibility of an angry confrontation remains a plausible scenario in his death.
"If you didn't know him, Dr. Im could seem like a pretty crusty or grumpy guy," said former co-worker Mark Foecking. "The police asked me if he might have angered someone he met on the spot, like a Mid-Mo patient asking for a cigarette. Im was a smoker."
Mid-Mo refers to the Mid-Missouri Mental Health Center, across from the Maryland Avenue parking garage where Im's body was found.
Another former co-worker, who asked that she not be identified, said Im exploded when she mistakenly poured a chemical reagent down the wrong drain. "I've never forgotten it," she told me. "It was jarring and harsh and it changed our relationship from then on."
An otherwise good-hearted man who was quick to help students from his native Korea, Im "was a mentor and coach for a lot of the Korean grad students and post-docs, and he would spend quite a bit of time visiting with them," Foecking said. "To me, he'd talk about his life and family. Sometimes he was positive and other times he was negative. He was also pretty opinionated, and he'd let you know it. Like I've said before, if you didn't know him, you might think he was a grouch."