A business partner of a California herbalist was arrested Friday in the "horrific" deaths of the doctor, his wife and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, authorities said.
Pierre Haobsh, 27, of Oceanside, was arrested at gun point at a San Diego County gas station, Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bob Brown said. Authorities, armed with an arrest warrant, were tailing his red Lexus, Brown said. Police found a handgun and some property belonging to one of victims in the car.
The bodies of Dr. Weidong “Henry” Han, 57, his 29-year-old wife Huijie “Jenni” Yu, and their 5-year-old daughter Emily were found wrapped in plastic and duct-taped in the garage of their multi-million dollar Santa Barbara home, a statement from the sheriff said. All three had been shot.
"This was a diabolical, pre-mediated crime, one of the most odious that I have ever been involved with or that this agency has ever investigated," Brown said.
He said Haobsh was recently involved in a business deal with Han and that financial gain may have been the motive for the crime.
"This investigation is far from over," he said. "It is complex and ongoing."
Two other business associates of Han went to his home Wednesday after he failed to show up for a meeting — something they told authorities was highly uncharacteristic of him. The associates called authorities when they found the front door ajar and the family's cars parked outside. Deputies went to the home to check on Han's welfare and found the bodies.
Brown said the arrest came within 32 hours after the bodies were found inside Han’s home, the Los Angeles Times reported.
"This tragic case is a terrible blow to the Santa Barbara community and the medical community at large," he said. "Dr. Han has an impressive background in Chinese herbal medicine and Western medicine."
The killings have shaken up the Santa Barbara community. Han operated the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic and was a popular figure, according to the Associated Press. Han had owned and operated the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic since 1991, according to the clinic's website. Public records show he is a licensed acupuncturist.
The couple’s daughter attended kindergarten at Foothill Elementary School in Goleta Unified School District. Counselors were made available to students and parents.
"It is impossible to express the tremendous pain that this situation presents to us," Superintendent William Banning said in a statement.
Han came from a family of Chinese doctors and provided traditional treatments including acupuncture, acupressure and herbal formulas from an on-site Chinese pharmacy.
He is co-author of the book "Ancient Herbs, Modern Medicine," and he was working on a volume about how to integrate Chinese and Western medicine. At the clinic, he created individualized herbal formulas for each patient that were filled at an on-site pharmacy.
"Not only is he going to be missed by me personally and professionally, but this community is going to miss him incredibly. He was the man," said Dr. Glenn Miller, a psychiatrist who co-authored "Ancient Herbs, Modern Medicine" with Han and considered him one of his closest friends.
"Patients we share would talk about how in the true sense of the word he was a healer, in that he would listen to the wholeness of his patients," said Miller, who choked up several times as he spoke to the AP. He said Han wanted his patients healed both physically and emotionally.
Community Centered Oriental Medicine in Santa Barbara called the deaths a “tragic loss” and said Han was “the real thing, and (we) will miss him dearly,” the LA Times reported.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.