Irrational fears of financial ruin and emotional pressure may have driven a Clairemont woman to kill her teenage niece and a family friend, then herself, in the girl’s luxury Rancho Santa Fe home, a family attorney said July 1. Sheriff’s homicide investigators released autopsy results that Hannah Arya, 15, and Los Angeles real estate broker Ihnwon Mia Shin, 56, were stabbed to death by Sayeh Amini, 52, who then committed suicide by stabbing or cutting herself, said Homicide detective Lt. Kenn Nelson.
The killings took place Monday, June 27 inside the Via de la Valle home owned by Hannah’s father, Michael Arya, before his death in April. Friends and family members have said Hannah came home from an Arizona boarding school with Shin, a longtime friend and business associate of her father, joining her as a sort of chaperone. It was not clear why Amini went to the house.
Shin, who grew up in La Jolla and went to La Jolla High School, was a successful broker, her sister said. She spoke to The San Diego Union-Tribune on condition that her name not be published and said Shin and Arya had been neighbors at one time.
Investigators had said someone called 911 about 11 a.m. to report possible child abuse at the home. Nelson declined to reveal what was heard or seen, but he said a couple of juveniles and an adult, acquaintances of Hannah’s, had been in front of her house, then went a short distance down the street to call for help. No calls for help were made from inside the house.
Deputies summoned by the call got no answer at the door but saw through a window a woman lying dead on the floor. They broke in and found the other two bodies in other parts of the house.
The lawyer, a family friend of Amini and her husband, James Moliere, described her as delusional and suicidal since the death of her brother, who had lived in the home with his Russian girlfriend. He died at age 59 after a three-year battle with lung cancer.
“(Amini) had it in her head that friends of her brother were going to blame her for her brother’s death, and perhaps people would come after her in lawsuits, to ruin her financially,” said Carl Starett, an El Cajon bankruptcy attorney.
He said Amini’s husband tried twice to have her admitted to a hospital when she became suicidal recently. On June 13 she was talking of harming herself, but refused to accept admission to the hospital, Starett said. Two days later, after she’d visited her brother’s house, a family friend told Moliere that Amini needed help. He took her back to the hospital and she stayed overnight before being discharged.
Hannah was attending Verde Valley boarding and day school in Sedona, Arizona. In social media postings her many friends remember her as a kind, loving and beautiful girl. She took part in equestrian events at school.
Shin looked out for Hannah after her father’s death, according to Leyla Kaya, who used to babysit Hannah and work for Arya. He owned Global Capital Group in downtown San Diego, a mortgage and real estate firm, and for a time owned Café Lulu in downtown San Diego.
Shin’s sister said Shin was with Hannah on Sunday, making dinner for her and a teenage friend. “She had nothing to do with their family stuff,” the sister said in a telephone interview. “My sister was a practicing Buddhist. This is very odd. She’s always talking about cause and effect. I can’t understand how this has happened…” Shin was unmarried and had no children.
Kaya spoke of Shin as sophisticated, sassy, charming and tough. She once sold a house to tennis star Serena Williams. “She went through a rough patch (when Michael was dying),” Kaya said. “She finally felt at peace and felt like her whole life was changing for the better.”
Kaya said Hannah flew into San Diego on July 2 and was planning to stay through the Fourth of July. Kaya was supposed to pick her up, but plans changed and Shin drove down from Los Angeles to get her. Then Kaya, Shin and Hannah ate dinner at Cafe Gratitude in Little Italy, and got yogurt before going to the airport to pick up the girl’s friend, who flew in from Portland, Oregon.
Kaya was invited to spend the night at Hannah’s house and have dinner with the group on Sunday. Shin, who favored healthy foods, was going to cook. Kaya said she wasn’t feeling well so she didn’t go.
Shin was happy that weekend, talking about a $70 million project she had just secured in La Jolla, Kaya said. “None of this makes sense. It’s very confusing, shocking,” Kaya said of the killings. “Mia was an innocent bystander. She came to help Hannah.”
She said Arya went through a messy divorce, and Hannah lived with Arya and his girlfriend, Marina Ryzhkova. She added that Arya and his sister never had a close relationship.
Ryzhkova returned to Russia sometime after Arya’s death, and signed away her trustee rights to act for his estate in the event that Amini could not fulfill that role, according to Starett. With Amini dead, another family member could step in as trustee, or a professional could be appointed by the court, he said.
Starett said he has known Amini’s husband, Moliere, for 35 years. Moliere, a software engineer, was married to Amini for 16 years and they had three sons, ages 10, 12 and 15. She was a stay-at-home mother who also managed rental properties she and her husband owned.
Starett said Amini was the trustee of the Michael Arya Revocable Living Trust, and in that role had to manage the estate assets, such as paying the mortgage, utility bills, and Hannah’s tuition. Under terms of the trust, Hannah was to inherit 50 percent of the estate, and the other half was to be split among Amini, Ryzhkova, a niece and a nephew.
Arya bought the Rancho Santa Fe house for $950,000 in 2014, according to a real estate website. The two-bedroom, three-bathroom home of 2,395 square feet was built in 1986, and is currently valued at $1.32 million, the website said.
“There’s no financial incentive I can see for her (Amini) to kill Hannah,” Starett said. He noted California law prevents a murderer from reaping financial benefits from the killing. He also said he knew of no serious dispute within the family over Amini’s role as trustee or her share of the inheritance.
“The pressures of being trustee might have gotten to her,” Starett added. “There were some checks that weren’t written in a timely fashion. That could have led to some family friction.”
Hannah’s mother, who lives in Oregon, remarried after her divorce from Arya. Starett said public records show that on June 10, she filed a lien against the estate for child support, discovery costs and attorney’s fees totaling $125,246. A judge confirmed an order for the liens to be recorded. Starett said he doubted Amini would have had time to receive mailed notice of the lien before Monday, so it was not a likely trigger for the slayings.
He said Amini’s husband is “numb” while dealing with the murder-suicide and their three sons. —Pauline Repard, The San Diego Union Tribune
Nearly 600K visit beaches over holiday
San Diego Lifeguards estimate 258,750 people made their way to San Diego beaches on the Fourth of July, and that 344 rescues were made. Leading up to the holiday, there were more than 340,000 beachgoers (155,000 on Saturday and 185,800 on Sunday) and 439 rescues. Lee Swanson, Media Services Manager for the City of San Diego Fire-Rescue Department, reports a total of 599,550 beachgoers and 783 rescues.
This compares to 537,200 people at the beaches over the three-day holiday weekend in 2015, when lifeguards performed 154 rescues. In 2014, 954,000 beachgoers were out during the three day holiday weekend and there were 468 rescues.
Man wanted in high-speed chase arrested
After evading police for more than two months, Ahren Michael Haugley, 41, who allegedly led police on a reckless 45-minute road chase through La Jolla last spring before abandoning his car in the East Village and escaping on foot, was in custody July 1 following his arrest in Rancho Penasquitos.
Officers investigating a report of a suspicious person in a neighborhood near the northern reaches of Black Mountain Open Space Park found Haugley passed out in a stolen car in the 11200 block of Paseo Montanoso about 9:30 a.m. July 1, according to San Diego police.
When roused, Haugley, who allegedly had a methamphetamine pipe on his lap, refused to cooperate with the patrol personnel and became combative, Lt. Scott Wahl said. The officers were able to take him into custody following a brief scuffle, the lieutenant said.
In the pursuit for which Haugley was being sought on April 28, officers responding to a request to check on a man’s welfare found Haugley sitting in a parked red Honda Accord in the area of Caminito Eastbluff and Via Sonoma in the La Jolla Village area, according to police.
Seeing the officers, Haugley drove off, and they followed him and tried to pull him over.
Haugley allegedly refused to yield and fled to the north through La Jolla, driving at high speed and so erratically that police soon decided to back off the chase for safety reasons.
Open container in public park, 300 block Marine Street, 12:10 p.m.
Motor vehicle theft, 900 block Pearl Street, 2:15 p.m.
Motor vehicle fheft, 200 block Bonair Street, 5 p.m.
Minor transporting alcohol, 300 block Vista De La Playa, 5:50 p.m.
Vehicle break-in, 5100 block Foothill Boulevard, 12:10 a.m.
Commercial burglary, 7400 block La Jolla Boulevard, 3:37 a.m.
Possession of marijuana, 28.5 grams or less or with no prior, 300 block Marine Street, 6:28 p.m.
Vehicle break-in, 7300 block Olivetas Avenue, 9:30 p.m.
Motor vehicle theft, 700 block Tourmaline Street, 1 p.m.
Residential burglary, 600 block Forward Street, 8:30 p.m.
DUI (alcohol 0.08 percent), 400 block Prospect Street, 1:08 a.m.