The murder of an aspiring model and actress in 2008, after a business deal went wrong, may have been perpetrated by a debt collector nicknamed “James Bond" and hired as “muscle."
Juliana Redding, 21, had posed for Maxim magazine and appeared in a bit role in a movie before she was strangled more than four years ago. Recently released court documents claim the attack was driven by a failed business deal between her father and an ex-boyfriend, Lebanese physician and businessman Munir Uwaydah, The Los Angeles Times reports.
Uwaydah allegedly "dispatched" his employee Kelly Soo Park -- officially his real estate broker and financial assistant -- to "confront" Redding after her father pulled out of a pharmaceutical deal on doubts of Uwaydah’s legitimacy.
Prosecutors allege that Park, who Uwaydah called “James Bond,” had served as his “debt collector” and intimidated business partners of Uwaydah’s in at least two previous incidents with her then-boyfriend, racecar driver Ronnie Case. One incident involved intimidating a bank manager over an investment scheme, another a horse breeding business and $350,000 collection, CBS News reports.
Uwaydah, however, who has since fled the country and is now believed to be living in Lebanon, allegedly only hired Park to “intimidate and threaten” Redding, not to murder her, according to the LAT.
Park, who has been linked to the murder scene via “forensic evidence," has pleaded not guilty and awaits a pretrial conference set for October 24, ABC News reports. She has been accompanied at court appearances by her fiance, retired Oxnard Police Commander Thomas Chronister, according to CBS News.
This is not the first time a so-called debt collector has been linked with a homicide, nor that a business deal gone wrong has ended in violence. In 2011, three debt collectors hired by Citibank were arrested in Indonesia in connection with the death of Irzen Octa, a businessman with a $12,500 outstanding debt to the bank.
Earlier this year, a South African hedge fund manager allegedly shot and killed his business partner before turning the gun on himself after regulators launched an investigation into his firm.
(Hat tip: The Daily Mail)