2005 rings in another bizarre death of a leading microbiologist

Researcher called consummate educator

K. Miller


Baltimore, MD - Another top microbiologist has been found dead, again by mysterious circumstances, leading the number to over 132 strange microbiologist deaths since 9/11/01.  Colleagues, students and colleagues gathered to pay tribute to Im in Acuff Auditorium at the University of Missouri-Columbia School of Medicine. The retired MU researcher was found stabbed to death in the trunk of his car last week in the Maryland Avenue parking garage.

At the memorial, a slide show flashed scenes of Im as a boy in a traditional Korean farm family, as a smiling young man in sunglasses on a beach, as a graduate student exploring the East Coast and in his later years as a husband and father.

"Dadís passing was tragic," Ihm, his daughter said. "And I know you are all struggling to make sense of it, as we are." She remembered her father as a consummate educator and a "walking dictionary," a man with an argumentative personality that hid a "soft, contemplative side." Her father gave his help generously and inspired deep loyalty among students and colleagues. "If he has touched your life, I hope you will honor his principles and values in your lives and think of him," she said.

H.D. Kim, a colleague and friend for more than 40 years, said, "Our community has lost a scholar and a sage elder."

Kim met Im in the early 1960s, when both men were studying in North Carolina. Kim recalled his friendís expertise on everything from biochemistry to fixing cars for fellow graduate students. Youn Ju Lee, a post-doctoral fellow at MU, described Im as a valued mentor who kept the highest standards.

"He was the hardest and strictest person Iíve ever had in my life, except for my father," Lee said, adding that no one except her parents was more proud of her success. On the night before his death, Im gave Lee more advice on how to be a worthy scientist in a conversation that lasted until 10 p.m. In perfect keeping with his personality, he promised to give her another lecture the next day.

Police have investigated more than 150 leads in the case. A decision was expected today whether to disband the Mid-Missouri Major Case Squad and return the investigation to University Police, reduce the squad of 28 detectives or extend the squadís participation, MU police Capt. Brian Weimer said.