SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- ABC7 News is learning stunning new details about one of the men suspected in a murder-for-hire plot to kill his longtime girlfriend. Last Friday, 73-year-old Nelson Chia died by suicide after being arrested for murder along with 33-year-old Hasheem Bason in a plot to kill Lili Xu outside a Little Saigon massage parlor in Oakland.
The tears Chia shed when he sat down with ABC7 News anchor Dion Lim for an interview in August did not feel authentic to his estranged son Byron in the least.
"That was one of his best manipulations. To put on those theatrics. When I watched that it reminded me of things he did his whole life, which is to manipulate people," said Byron.
On Friday, Oct. 28, just hours after Chia and 35-year-old Bason were arrested, Chia died by suicide in his holding cell at the Santa Rita jail.
"I didn't have any sadness or emotions over my father's passing. For me, it's like having a huge ominous monkey off my back," says Byron, who was alerted to the murder and his father's death by a high school friend he had not spoken to in years.
Byron, who does not use his father's last name and has been estranged from Chia for years, describes a tumultuous childhood, filled with abuse. One instance involved a time in 6th grade when his father did not want him to speak to his middle school girlfriend on the phone.
VIDEO: Community gathers to mourn Lili Xu, woman murdered in Oakland's Little Saigon
"He grabbed the phone off the wall and threw it, it cracked my nose and it was bleeding everywhere," said Byron. He says it was his father's narcissism that broke their family apart.
"He had a lot of other companions. Female companions," said Byron. He even recounted the time he and his brother were on a trip to Tahoe with his father and a blonde woman who was not his mother.
Byron describes his father as a man with sociopathic tendencies and incapable of empathy.
"He liked to see in movies or real life people or animals suffering," said Byron.
Melissa Williams and her mother worked for Chia at a financial consulting company in the 90s. She describes Chia as a good man but with two sides.
"Charismatic and a businessman. He was a talker, a persuaded... and was able to form relationships," says Williams via Zoom from Sacramento.
His downfall was one of his passions.
"He had a love and need for money, that's what drove him to where he ended. If you don't have compassion or a conscious then there is no limit," said Williams.
That lack of compassion was perhaps exemplified in a fundraiser memorial Chia held in Lili's memory and a video of him singing karaoke at her funeral.
There are a number of karaoke videos on YouTube, showing Chia at various events, dressed in formalwear. Law enforcement sources tell ABC7 that Chia most likely met Bason while singing karaoke.
Court documents show Xu's estimated net worth, at around $12 million to $14 million. Law enforcement sources say wiretapping revealed Chia's discussions with Bason and his role in the murder-for-hire plot.
Bason was arraigned Tuesday and will not enter a plea until Nov. 15. He remains in jail.
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