Who would want beautiful Juliana dead?
It was 16 March 2008, and Juliana Redding’s mum couldn’t get hold of her.
Juliana hadn’t turned up for a photoshoot, which was strange because, ever since appearing in Maxim magazine as one of its Hometown Hotties, she’d been excited about doing more modelling.
Police broke into Juliana’s Santa Monica apartment. And smelt gas. The apartment looked ransacked, too. The knob on the kitchen stove was switched on full blast, with a candle burning nearby. It was amazing the whole flat hadn’t exploded.
They found Juliana. She was in a bedroom…beaten and strangled. Her body was covered in scratches and bruises.
She’d been throttled with such force, a bone in her neck had been broken. The scratch marks under her chin were from her own fingers trying to peel away her attacker’s hands.
Police found a broken necklace and broken porcelain pieces, too. But who would’ve wanted to kill her?
There followed two years of intensive police work. Police thought they were at a dead end.
Until they presented Kelly Soo Park, 47, a wealthy businesswoman, with a warrant to check her fingerprints. She refused to co-operate.
Park had worked as an estate agent and ‘business associate’ for a physician called Dr Munir Uwaydah. Juliana’s ex-boyfriend.
Park’s DNA matched that found on Juliana’s neck, tank top, and mobile phone. It was also found on the inside of the apartment’s front door and on the oven knob that had been left on.
Park was arrested in 2010, accused of murder.
Police uncovered some extraordinary claims about Park’s relationship with Juliana’s ex, Dr Uwaydah. Uwaydah called Park his ‘female James Bond’.
Rumours abounded that she was an enforcer. A thug-for-hire who’d deal with problem people for the doc.
Apparently, she’d been paid $250,000 (around £170,000) by Uwaydah just weeks before.
And Uwaydah had been planning to go into business with Juliana’s father, Greg, a pharmacist.
But Greg had looked into his prospective colleague and discovered that he’d lied about his age, was married and had children. He told his daughter, who broke off the relationship.
Greg officially ended negotiations five days before Juliana had been murdered.
When the case came to trial in May 2013, the defence wanted to argue that the real killer was another of Juliana’s love interests, who they said was violent.
There was also a lack of motive and inconclusive DNA.
Yes, Park’s DNA was in the flat, but both woman had spent lots of time in Uwaydah’s home – surely Park’s DNA could’ve been transferred from the things they had both touched?
Also, Park had no previous convictions for violence. Why would she suddenly beat a 21-year-old woman to death?
It was time for the jury to decide the truth…
The jury found Kelly Soo Park not guilty of first-degree murder after a week of deliberations.
She was also acquitted of the lesser charge of second-degree murder.
Park’s lawyer said, ‘There are still a lot of unanswered questions about what happened in the apartment.’
By Rachel Tompkins