Sunday, October 11, 2009

IM MURDER: Suspect steps forward, tells all -- Part 2

Im's car after the murder
More exclusive testimony from the only official suspect

COLUMBIA, 10/6/09 (Beat Byte) -- One of the last people to see MU biochemist Jeong Im alive, former Im co-worker and MU employee Jerry Davis (a pseudonym used to protect the identity of two women he was charged with harassing) says he was a suspect in the researcher's murder, to this day uncertain if University of Missouri police investigating the 2005 homicide have cleared him.

Two years after interviewing him extensively about the murder and taking DNA samples, multiple MU and Columbia police squad cars closed the street to Davis' home after a female MU employee and another woman -- Jane Stinson and Judy Moore (also pseudonyms) filed separate stalking and harassment complaints against him in Boone County Circuit Court.  An MU detective who had earlier interviewed Davis, Sgt. Shawn Spalding, was part of the team, Davis explained.  

He granted the Columbia Heart Beat an exclusive and revealing interview, which continues from part one last week.

Bungalows and Bohemians

"In the last minutes the MU detective was at my house, I suggested it might be better, rather than being concerned about me, that they keep looking to find who killed Dr. Im," Davis told the Heart Beat. "I mentioned I had been a suspect, and was told by detective Spalding that I had been cleared."

But Davis says he didn't believe Spalding.  "He might have been fishing for an incriminating statement," Davis said. "That's why I'm not altogether sure he was telling the truth."

The women who sought the restraining orders both live on Davis' central Columbia street, a narrow, recently paved residential lane dotted with bungalows and Bohemians.  They misunderstood his intentions, he said -- misunderstandings motivated by their own personal problems.

"Jane Stinson is a fairly unhappy person deep down," Davis said. "She has a major dark side, which she is only partially successful in hiding.  She apparently had a rough childhood, and carries around a lot of negativity.  Many others on my street recognize her moodiness, and simply don't seek out her companionship anymore. She often overreacts to things that people say or do."

Davis said he inadvertently started the dispute when he asked Moore -- a friend of Stinson's -- "about an email I had gotten from Jane accusing me of stalking her.   I had simply passed her on the street and said good morning -- she thought I had planned it."

Moore sided with Stinson -- but had her own personal problems too, Davis explained. "Judy Moore was under considerable stress. She had separated from her husband and was going through boyfriends at a rapid clip," Davis said. "She's also a gender studies major, and quite the feminist. Moore and Stinson got together and thought this was a good idea. "

Calling the restraining orders the work of "a couple of hateful women trying to make me look bad" filled with "exaggerations and fabrications," Davis said they were "absolutely irrelevant, except in a tabloid journalism sort of way, to anything connected with Jeong Im's murder."

Justice and closure

A slender 50-ish man who bikes to work and rarely drives, Davis says he's felt beleaguered about the Im murder almost from the day it occurred.  At the right height with sandy-brown wavy hair, he fits the suspect description, he said.  But that's where the suspicions should end.

"I REALLY DIDN'T DO IT!!!" he emailed.  "This is why I have been so adamant about defending myself, and why this bothers me as much as it does. If I had really done it, I would likely be much less willing to give the information I have. In many cases, I have given such information to counter misinformation."

Davis has been forthcoming, both to the Heart Beat and before he was considered a suspect, to the Missourian and the Columbia Daily Tribune, who interviewed him about the case.    "I have been honest throughout."

Repeatedly emphasizing that the cause of justice is not served by, as he termed it, "blogurbation" about the murder, Davis predicted that he'd be acquitted if he were accused and tried for Im's murder.

"I would then have to sue for recovery of legal expenses, and I'd be considerably more than gracious if I didn't name [the Columbia Heart Beat] as a co-defendant for your contribution to my wrongful prosecution," he warned.  "Do you really want to take the (minor, but nonzero) chance that I'll wind up like Ryan Ferguson?  The worst that can happen here is the courts convict an innocent man. The best that can happen here is you get an Enquirer-style story, and further damage my reputation."

"Just think about why you're doing this," Davis ended our interview.  "Pointing the finger at me doesn't serve justice."

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