SANTA BARBARA, Calif. (AP) — A California man was charged Tuesday with murder in the slaughter of the family of a Chinese herbalist, including his 5-year-old daughter, in a crime authorities say might have been caused by a business dispute.
Pierre Haobsh, 26, of Oceanside was charged with murder with special circumstances that he used a handgun, killed for financial gain and committed multiple killings.
Santa Barbara County prosecutors have not decided whether to seek the death penalty.
Haobsh has been jailed since his arrest at gunpoint Friday at a gas station in San Diego County, more than 170 miles south of the killing scene. It was unclear whether he had an attorney.
He made a brief court appearance Tuesday, but did not enter a plea. His arraignment was scheduled for April 14.
County sheriff’s deputies who went to check on the welfare of 57-year-old Dr. Weidong “Henry” Han on Wednesday found the bodies of the physician, his 29-year-old wife, Huijie “Jenni” Yu, and the couple’s 5-year-old daughter, Emily Han, in the family’s multimillion-dollar home on the outskirts of Santa Barbara.
They had been shot in the head and their bodies were found wrapped in plastic and duct-taped in the garage, authorities said.
A loaded gun and property belonging to one of the victims was found inside the car where Haobsh was arrested, Sheriff Bob Brown said last week.
The two men were recently involved in a business deal, and financial gain could have been a motive in the slayings, authorities said.
The killings shook Santa Barbara, where Han was a popular figure. He 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.
A biography on his website says he earned degrees in Oriental and Western medicine from a Beijing university in 1982, graduating at the top of his class. He moved to the U.S. a few years later to study psychology.
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.