Disappearance leads to murder charge
Despite the lack of a body — thought to have been dumped in the Colorado River — a judge on Friday bound over a Denver man to district court for trial in the suspected murder of a business partner.
Denver County Judge Andrew Armatas ruled after a preliminary hearing that there is probable cause to believe Joong Rhee is guilty, said Lynn Kimbrough, spokeswoman for the Denver District Attorney’s Office.
Rhee, 66, is due in district court to enter a plea Sept. 30. He was charged with first-degree murder after the disappearance of his business partner, Hae C. Park. Park’s family last saw him March 27; he was 64 at the time.
Authorities suspect Rhee may have dumped Park’s body in the Colorado River east of Glenwood Springs.
An April 15 search of the river by Denver police, the Garfield County Sheriff’s Department and local volunteers failed to find the body or any additional evidence.
However, prosecutors charged Rhee the next day.
Denver police say an investigation of Rhee’s office turned up evidence indicating Park died at the office.
Park was supposed to meet Rhee there before his disappearance, prosecutors said.
Kimbrough said Friday’s hearing was marked by a dramatic moment when Park’s widow passed out or fainted in the courtroom and had to be taken out by paramedics.
Kimbrough said the Denver District Attorney’s Office occasionally has murder cases in which no body has been found, but prosecutors go forward with evidence that appears sufficient to prove the charge to a jury beyond a reasonable doubt.
“We believe we have proof beyond a reasonable doubt even though we have not located the victim’s body,” she said.
She said the Rhee case “holds much significance for the Korean community in the Denver area.”
Kimbrough said the last information she had continued to indicate police believe Park’s body may be in the Colorado River.
“I’m not aware that they’re looking anywhere else,” she said.
Denver police are offering up to $2,000 for information in the case.
Anyone with information is asked to call local law enforcement, Denver police at 720-913-2000, or anonymously at a Crime Stoppers Hotline at 720-913-7867.