Before This White-Collar Conman Killed His Business Partner, He Faked His Own Kidnapping

Ed Shin was no stranger to deceit, authorities soon found, when investigating the disappearance of his business partner. An electronic trail and a mysterious blood stain would soon unravel his plan.

By Dorian Geiger

Long before gambling addict, known embezzler, and debt consolidator Edward Shin was convicted of slaying his California business partner, Chris Smith, in 2010, he had a history of deceit that dated back years — including a kidnapping hoax targeting his own father.

The unbelievable story of Shin's brazen murder and subsequent cover-up is related in this week's “A Lie To Die For,” which airs Saturday nights on Oxygen.

Shin, despite having tried to frame his former colleague's killing as an accident during a “fight gone bad,” sent multiple bizarre emails from Smith’s account to his lawyer, family and girlfriend, giving the impression that his partner was still alive. One of those messages said that Smith was running off to galavant the globe with a Playboy model — Shin was trying to make Smith vanish into thin air. Shin also told investigators that he commissioned a mysterious Eastern European man from Las Vegas to bury the body. Yet, he was ultimately convicted of Smith's murder in 2018, according to  the Los Angeles Times

While trying to cover up Smith’s death, detectives said, Shin sent a series of suicidal emails over the course of months and weeks, posing as Smith to the man’s family. In one message, Smith allegedly told his parents he was thinking of doing “the unspeakable,” according to GQ. In other emails, he said he was depressed and on drugs.

"It felt like he was going off the deep end," Smith's father Paul said, GQ reported. "Something was very wrong."

During the court proceedings, Shin confessed the emails he sent to Smith’s contacts pretending to be his partner, wasn’t the only time he had pretended to be someone else over email in the past. 

A Partnership of Lies

He once sent emails to his own father claiming to be a stranger who had kidnapped Shin. He sent his dad a note threatening to kill his son if he went to the authorities, and demanding $1 million in cash, according to law enforcement interviewed for “A Lie To Die For.”

Shin, who blamed the episode on a “nervous breakdown,” according to local newspaper, the Orange County Register, drove all the way to Texas before contacting authorities, as well as his family, admitting the kidnapping was actually a hoax. He was never charged for the hoax.

During the Orange County trial, Shin attempted to spin a smorgasbord of sensationalistic tales to the jury, which deputy district attorney Matt Murphy, at times called “cartoonish.” Murphy alleged Shin had actually stabbed or beat Smith to death and buried him in the desert. The prosecutor largely dismissed many of Shin’s claims as pure fantasy in court. 

“In the liar Olympics, you are looking at the gold-medal winner on the planet Earth,” Murphy said.

When sentencing came around, Shin tearfully told the court that he knew he had committed “despicable acts against the Smith family,” according to “A Lie To Die For” footage, and said that his soul was “now broken.”

Shin's mother also pleaded for leniency for her son, imploring the court that Shin had changed.

He was given life without the possibility of parole.

To hear the whole story of Ed Shin's web of deceit and brutal murder of Chris Smith, watch “A Lie To Die For” on Oxygen.com, and for more stories of lethal lies, catch new episodes Saturday nights on Oxygen.

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