A businessman was charged Tuesday with killing a well-known Chinese herbalist, his wife and 5-year-old daughter inside their hillside Santa Barbara home for financial gain, prosecutors said.
Pierre Haobsh, 26, of Oceanside faces three felony counts of first-degree murder, according to the Santa Barbara County district attorney’s office. Prosecutors further allege that Haobsh was lying in wait when he committed the murders.
Haobsh was scheduled to be arraigned Tuesday afternoon in Santa Barbara.
If he is convicted of the murders, Haobsh could face the death penalty or life in prison without parole. Prosecutors plan to decide on whether to pursue the death penalty after the preliminary hearing.
The slain couple ran a popular Chinese herbal clinic on State Street in Santa Barbara, and Han was the author of several books on Chinese herbal medicine.
Weidong Henry Han, 57; Huijie “Jennie” Yu, 29; and their daughter, Emily, were found dead Wednesday night inside their gated, 7-acre ranchette off the 101 Freeway.
Han's colleagues became concerned about his whereabouts when he didn't show up for a business meeting earlier that day. They went to his home and found the front door ajar and the family's vehicles outside.
Deputies were notified and found the victims’ bodies wrapped in plastic and duct tape in the garage, said Sheriff Bill Brown of the Santa Barbara County Sheriff’s Office.
An autopsy determined all three victims died of gunshot wounds to the head, sheriff's Lt. Brad McVay said Tuesday.
Brown called the slayings “diabolic, premeditated.”
Within the first 32 hours of the family’s killings, investigators began interviewing friends, relatives, neighbors and business associates who led them to Haobsh, Brown said.
Detectives think Haobsh was recently involved in a business transaction with Han, the sheriff said.
They then obtained a warrant to arrest Haobsh.
Detectives began monitoring Haobsh and spotted him about 12:30 a.m. Friday at a gas station in San Diego County, where they arrested him.
A loaded 9-millimeter handgun and property belonging to one of the victims was found inside Haobsh’s car, Brown said.
"This tragic case is a terrible blow to the Santa Barbara community and the medical community at large," he said.
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