DA tried to call Sanchez home before murder-suicide

DA tried to call Sanchez home before murder-suicide

January 17, 2011 7:04:09 PM PST
A South Bay family is in mourning again after a violent turn of events in a 10-year-old missing persons case. Maurice Nasmeh had been accused of the murder of Jeanine Harms, who disappeared in 2001, but prosecutors eventually dropped the charges. Over the weekend Harms' brother, Wayne Sanchez, shot and killed Nasmeh and then killed himself.

Police still don't know if the initial exchange between Nasmeh and Harms' brother was a chance encounter at a strip mall or if Harms' brother actually followed him to confront him. The Sanchez family is grieving and asked that their privacy be respected.

Jess and Georgette Sanchez have talked to ABC7 in the past, but on Monday there is too much pain and the heartache includes a missed phone call. Newly-elected District Attorney Jeff Rosen says on Saturday afternoon his homicide supervisor tried to call the couple to tell them the office is still actively investigating the 2001 disappearance of their daughter Jeanine Harms.

But on Saturday night, hours after the call that rang and rang, with no answer, Wayne Sanchez gunned down the man he believed murdered his sister and then killed himself.

"When I found out on Sunday morning what had happened, I was very distraught and I wish that we'd been able to make contact with the family. We tried, we weren't able to and I don't know if that would have made a difference," said Rosen.

Wayne shot and killed Nasmeh at a Peet's Coffee and Tea shop in San Jose. Police believe Nasmeh was the last person to see Harms alive and her body has never been found. Police arrested Nasmeh in December 2004, but later released him because of questions surrounding fiber evidence in the case. For years the architect lived quietly in a San Jose house on East Hedding; his connection to the Harms mystery was unknown even to most neighbors.

"Now I've heard of the Harms case, but I didn't hear about him being involved in it or even know he was the person that was involved in it," said neighbor Chris Gausepohl.

Investigators who have worked to solve Harms' disappearance for nearly a decade are stunned at the tragic turn of events.

"Because of the events that took place in beginning in 2001, the Sanchez family have lost two children and now the Nasmeh family has lost one of theirs and so it is a terrible tragedy," said Los Gatos Sgt. Kerry Harris.

The district attorney says a rug missing from Harm's home and evidence found in Nasmeh's car are in the hands of the country's leading fiber expert in Illinois. He expects results within six months.

"If our findings are, we believe Maurice Nasmeh was the murderer, then the investigation will be closed. If our investigation goes in another direction, then we'll have further things to say," said Rosen.

Rosen says this is an active case. The evidence testing has been painfully slow and says the case has been made more difficult because Harms' body has never been found.