After Christopher Smith abruptly vanished from Southern California, e-mail messages supposedly from him continued to land in the inboxes of his friends and family for months afterward assuring them he was safe and traveling the world.
Although initially believable, the e-mails gradually became stranger and stranger, alarming those close to him.
Eventually authorities uncovered the sinister truth that Smith’s business partner, Edward Shin, murdered him and then hatched an elaborate plan, including the fake e-mails, to cover it up.
"20/20's” two-hour broadcast, which aired on Jan. 24, and multi-part podcast tell the complicated tale of how authorities carefully connected the dots, which landed Shin in prison for life.
ABC News chief national correspondent Matt Gutman sat down for an extensive jailhouse interview with Shin, who opened up about killing Smith, as well as talked about his shady past; and why he has remained silent about the location of Smith’s body to this day -- a burning question authorities are still trying to answer.
The “Cutthroat Inc.” podcast, hosted by Gutman, is available for free wherever you get your podcasts.
Episode 1: A Missing Person
When Chris Smith, a movie-star handsome ad exec, takes his fortune, charters a yacht and sails away with a Playboy Playmate, few who know him are surprised -- or alarmed. But when he stays away, his family thinks there might be more to the story than escaping pressures at work.
Episode 2: Off to Vegas
Before his voyage, Chris Smith and his business partner, Ed Shin, both wanted to get rich quick. But that's where the similarity ended. Disagreements and legal issues derail their good times.
Episode 3: A Tape Recorder and a Gun
What started as an idyllic getaway with a beautiful woman seems to have become, for Chris Smith, a tour of some of the world's most dangerous places. His family doesn't know what to believe anymore -- and they start searching for him.
Episode 4: Red Flags
Chris Smith's family is convinced something terrible has happened to him, so they file a missing person report. Police get involved -- but the investigation seems to hit a dead end.
Episode 5: Mr. Shincredible
The search for Chris Smith leads different teams of investigators down a few different paths. But those paths lead them all to one place where they make a stunning discovery.
Episode 6: Left For Dead
The last person to see Chris Smith was his business partner, Ed Shin. But, when he tells investigators his version of what happened, the story takes another unexpected turn.
Episode 7: The Path of the Wolf
Ed Shin now has one last chance to convince a jury that he's not a killer. But to do that, he has to bet the rest of his life that he can outwit a legendary prosecutor who has never lost a homicide trial. After the trial, Ed Shin spends hours talking to ABC News' Matt Gutman.
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