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Two charged with murder of Arizona State professor found in landfill

The teen suspects were found in a vehicle belonging to professor Jun Seok Chae in Louisiana, authorities said.

Two teenagers were booked on suspicion of murder after missing Arizona college professor's body was found in a landfill, authorities said Friday

Arizona State University engineering professor Junseok Chae was killed in suburban Phoenix sometime after he was reported missing March 25 after he didn't return home from work, Arizona's Maricopa County Sheriff's Office said in a statement Friday.

Image: Junseok Chae obit
The body of Arizona State University Professor Junseok Chae was found in a Phoenix-area landfill July 17.Arizona State University

On March 30, the case led to Shreveport, Louisiana, where Javian Ezell and Gabrielle Austin, both 18, were in the educator's, the sheriff's office said. A third person who has not been named was with the pair.

After that investigators developed a suspicion that the professor had been killed in Maricopa County, where "several items of evidence were identified," the office said.

Detectives believed Chae's body was placed in a Dumpster, and they searched the Northwest Regional Landfill in Surprise, Arizona, from May 11 until the discovery last week, sheriff's officials said.

The landfill search also turned up "related evidence," the office said.

The body was positively identified as Chae by the Maricopa medical examiner, sheriff's officials said. The cause of death was not revealed.

An image of the Northwest Regional Landfill where the Maricopa County Sheriff's Office has been working since March 25, 2020 in search of evidence on the homicide of professor Junseok Chae, who went missing earlier this year.Maricopa County Sheriff

The sheriff's office said the suspects were recently extradited from Louisiana to Arizona.

They were booked on suspicion of first-degree murder, armed robbery and vehicle theft, the office said. Bail was set at $1 million each.

It's not clear the pair has private legal representation. The Maricopa County Office of the Public Defender did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

"We are saddened by the loss of ASU community member Junseok Chae," the university, which has five campuses in the Phoenix area, said in a statement. "Our condolences go out to Professor Chae’s family and friends."

According to university bios, the educator graduated from Korea University in Seoul in 1998 before earning two advanced degrees from the University of Michigan and joining ASU in 2005.