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Woman fatally stabbed niece and friend in Rancho Santa Fe and then killed herself, officials say

A bouquet of flowers is placed in front of the Rancho Santa Fe home where two women and a teenage girl were found dead Monday.
(Hayne Palmour IV / San Diego Union-Tribune)

Fears of financial ruin and emotional pressure may have driven a woman to kill her teenage niece and a family friend, then herself, in the girl’s luxury Rancho Santa Fe home, a family attorney said Friday.

Sheriff’s homicide investigators released autopsy results that showed Hannah Ayra, 15, and Los Angeles real estate broker Ihnwon Mia Shin, 56, had been stabbed to death; Sayeh Amini, 52, committed suicide, officials said.

Homicide detective Lt. Kenn Nelson said he planned to explain the events to the victims’ families in person early next week before he releases more details about the double-murder/suicide case.

The killings occurred Monday inside the home owned by Hannah’s father, Michael Ayra, before his death in April. Friends and family members have said Hannah came home from an Arizona boarding school with Shin, a longtime friend and business associate of her father, joining her as a sort of chaperone.

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According to investigators, someone called 911 to report possible child abuse at the home. Nelson said a couple of juveniles and an adult, acquaintances of Hannah’s, had been in front of her house, then went a short distance down the street to call for help. No calls for help were made from inside the house.

Deputies got no answer at the door but saw through a window that a woman was lying on the floor. They broke in and found the other two bodies.

The lawyer — a family friend of Amini and her husband — described her as delusional and suicidal since the death of her brother, who had lived in the home with his Russian girlfriend. He died after a three-year battle with lung cancer.

Amini “had it in her head that friends of her brother were going to blame her for her brother’s death, and perhaps people would come after her in lawsuits, to ruin her financially,” said Carl Starett, a bankruptcy attorney.

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He said Amini’s husband tried twice to have her admitted to a hospital when she recently became suicidal. On June 13, she was talking of harming herself but refused to accept admission to the hospital, Starett said. Two days later, after she’d visited her brother’s house, a family friend suggested that Amini needed help. Her husband took her back to the hospital and she stayed overnight before being discharged.

“I wish she’d gotten the help she needed,” Starett said. “We don’t have any information, specifically, about why she snapped. ... The only answer seems to be that she had a severe mental breakdown that wasn’t caught and treated.”

pauline.repard@sduniontribune.com

Repard writes for the San Diego Union-Tribune

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