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Business dealings of two people killed in O.C. home are investigated

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Investigators in Orange County are looking into the business dealings of a man and woman who were shot to death inside their multimillion-dollar home in San Juan Capistrano over the weekend.

The killings have shocked this normally quiet mission town, where violent crime is rare and homicides even rarer.

Bradford and Andra Sachs were found dead at home early Saturday. An 8-year-old boy believed to be their son was also found shot and remains hospitalized. Two teenage girls, believed to be their daughters, were in the house at the time but were not hurt.

Since they arrived at the scene just before 2 a.m. Saturday, Orange County sheriff's investigators said they have searched for clues as to what happened to the couple, who had been divorced for years but still lived together. No suspects have been identified and no arrests have been made.

"We're exploring all possibilities to include any past business dealings or relationships," said Lt. Jeff Hallock, a spokesman for the Orange County Sheriff's Department.

The Sachses lived in an exclusive neighborhood in a large, modern home protected by a tall metal gate. Over the years, public records show, they owned and ran myriad businesses and were landlords in San Juan Capistrano.

Some who knew them described the couple as kind and encouraging.

"They were always nice, courteous and helpful to us," said Chris Knuth, who rented office space from the Sachses.

Others said they were secretive, unfriendly and had a history of difficult business dealings.

Ken Baum rented office space from the couple about two years ago and said they appeared to be hiding from someone.

"They immediately told me, 'Make sure that nobody knows who we are, that you don't know us,'" he said.

The couple kept an office next door to Baum's business, Biodynamax, a sports training facility, but "they didn't want anybody to know that they were in that little office door.... They always had it locked," he said.

Andra Sachs was difficult to work with, Baum said. But, he added, "I never thought anybody would try to kill her, my God.... Never in my wildest dream did I think this might happen."

Robb Protheroe, owner of Plug-In Supply, which develops battery packs used to convert hybrid cars into plug-in hybrids, said his dealings with the couple left him with years of legal troubles.

In 2009, he formed a company with the Sachses called Plug In Solutions to manufacture and sell his products. But in less than five months, he said, he noticed that the couple were not paying contractors, suppliers and others.

"It became obvious to me that they were not legitimate businesspeople, so I severed the relationship," he said.

After that, the Sachses continued selling battery packs that he said were poorly built.

According to court records, in 2010 Plug In Solutions sold a conversion kit for a Toyota Prius to an Orange County woman. Six months later, the car began having problems, and a year later it caught fire while she was driving. The suit was settled out of court. It was just one of multiple suits filed in state court against the couple and their businesses in recent years.

Neighbor Patty Bonin said the Sachses were "just really nice people" who could be seen riding bikes in the neighborhood or heading off on vacations in their RV.

"I saw Andra about a week ago," Bonin said. "She and I passed on the way and waved. Nothing seemed to be wrong."

paloma.esquivel@latimes.com

Copyright © 2014, Los Angeles Times
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