"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," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a Friday news conference

By Adam Carlson
Updated March 26, 2016 03:40 PM
Credit: Santa Barbara County Sheriff's Office

A 27-year-old man is suspected of murder in the deaths of a prominent California herbalist, the herbalist’s wife and their young daughter just days before the daughter’s sixth birthday, authorities said Friday.

“This was a diabolical, premeditated crime, one of the most odious that I have ever been involved with or that this agency has ever investigated,” Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said at a news conference.

Pierre Haobsh was taken into custody in San Diego County without incident on Friday morning, Brown said.

Haobsh was booked into the county jail that night and charged with three counts of murder, jail officials tell PEOPLE. No bond will be set on those charges.

It was not immediately clear if Haobsh had entered a plea to those charges or retained an attorney.

Investigators, citing preliminary information, believe Haobsh was a business associate of Dr. Weidong Henry Han who allegedly killed Han’s family for financial gain, Brown said. The Han family was last seen alive Tuesday night before 10 p.m., he said. All three family members were found dead, duct-taped and wrapped in plastic.

It appears that Hoabsh and Han had recently been involved in a business deal, Brown said.

A 9mm handgun and “property believed to belong to one of the victim’s” was recovered from the vehicle Haobsh was driving upon his arrest, Brown said.

However, Brown said, motive is still being investigated and the case is “far from over.”

“It is complex and ongoing,” he said.

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Brown said deputies were first called to Han’s residence, in Goleta, on a welfare check Wednesday about 5:30 p.m. local time, after colleagues reported that Han had not shown up for a business meeting that morning, and had been unreachable since.

The bodies of Han, his wife, Huijie Yu, and their daughter, Emily, were found in the garage, Brown said. “Although autopsies have yet to be conducted, preliminary indications are that all of the victims suffered gunshot wounds,” he said.

“This tragic case is a terrible blow to the Santa Barbara area and to the medical community at large. Dr. Han had an impressive background in both Chinese herbal medicine and Western medicine,” Brown said. “He co-authored several books on the integration of the two medical techniques and he owned and ran the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic since 1991.”

Brown continued, “His wife, Jennie, worked alongside him at the clinic, and by all accounts they were loving parents to their daughter Emily.”

Ron Rakow, one of Han’s patients, told the Los Angeles Times he was a “national treasure.”

“His life was solving insolvable problems,” Rakow said.

Just this week, Rakow said, he got a call from Emily, who was inviting him to her birthday party. It would have been held on Saturday.