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Slaying of Chinese herbalist and family stuns Santa Barbara

Friends placed flowers and notes at a memorial as they mourned a well-known Chinese herbalist who was killed along with his wife and daughter last week in their Santa Barbara home.

A business associate of the practitioner of holistic medicine was arrested Friday in connection with what authorities called the “diabolical, premeditated” slayings of the herbalist, his wife and 5-year-old daughter.

Through the weekend, patients and friends made a procession to his office in Santa Barbara to offer their condolences. Many comforted each other and asked how this could have happened.

"This man was the kindest, gentlest, most giving human being I've ever met in my life," Brooke Crumley told KSBY-TV.

Pierre Haobsh, 27, of Oceanside was arrested in San Diego County early Friday on suspicion of murdering of Weidong Henry Han, 57; Huijie “Jennie” Yu, 29; and their daughter, Emily, said Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown. A loaded 9-millimeter handgun and property belonging to one of the victims was found inside Haobsh’s car.

Haobsh is expected to be charged Monday

The slain couple ran a popular Chinese herbal clinic on State Street, and Han was the author of several Chinese medicine books.

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Investigators think Haobsh was recently involved in a business transaction with Han, Brown said. Detectives are still investigating the motive for the killings, which they said may have been financial.

Preliminary indications are that all three suffered gunshot wounds. Han’s wife and daughter were last seen about 7 p.m. Tuesday, and Han was last seen at 10 p.m. the same day.

Han’s patients arrived Friday at his clinic, the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic, carrying colorful bouquets and handwritten notes.

Irma Russell collected the flowers and arranged them on a table, creating a memorial for a man who touched many in Santa Barbara.

For almost half her life, Russell said, Han had treated her for back pain and chronic flu-like symptoms.

“You just knew he was going to fix it,” said Russell, 71. “He worked magic.”

Patient Ron Rakow, 78, described Han as a “national treasure.”

“His life was solving insolvable problems,” said Rakow, who suffers from an incurable lung disorder and has breathing problems. Han mixed several herbs into a tea, which Rakow drank daily. His breathing improved, and he can now exercise several hours a day.

“This is a sacred place where people come here broken and get fixed,” Rakow said, adding that he was heartbroken to learn of the family’s death. 

Follow @AngelJennings and @VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

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