(01-16) 19:18 PST SAN JOSE -- In a shocking act of
vigilantism, the older brother of a Los Gatos woman who vanished in 2001
followed the prime suspect in the case into a Peet's coffee shop in San
Jose and gunned him down before turning the weapon on himself, authorities
The Saturday night shooting at the El Paseo de Saratoga Shopping
Center, which killed both men, came as police approached a decade of
investigation into the mysterious disappearance of Jeanine Sanchez Harms,
a 42-year-old technology firm manager, after a night of bar-hopping.
San Jose police officials identified the gunman as Wayne Sanchez, 52,
who lived with his parents in Campbell, less than a mile from the coffee
shop. At 9:19 p.m, they said, he shot Maurice Nasmeh, 46, the last person
known to have seen Harms alive.
Nasmeh, a San Jose architect, had been arrested in December 2004 and
charged with murder, but was released after 2 1/2 years. He maintained his
innocence, while Santa Clara County prosecutors insisted they had the
right man and would continue to pursue him.
"Are you kidding me?" asked Nasmeh's attorney, Daniel Jensen, when told
of the shooting by The Chronicle on Sunday. "He killed an innocent man.
Justice didn't get done here. Instead, we got two more victims and we
still have a killer out there walking free."
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen expressed condolences
to the Sanchez and Nasmeh families - in particular to Georgette and Jess
Sanchez, the parents of Sanchez and Harms. In an interview, he said
evidence in the case had been sent to an outside criminalist in the past
two years, with results from the analysis expected to be returned to him
within six months.
Asked about Nasmeh, Rosen said, "All I can say is that we had charged
him with the murder of Jeanine Harms. The charges were dismissed and we
are continuing our investigation."
Scott Seaman, chief of the Los Gatos/Monte Sereno Police Department,
said, "This is a completely unexpected tragedy and my thoughts are with
the families who are affected by this."
At Sanchez's home in Campbell, relatives declined to talk Sunday, with
one man shouting, "No reporters!" Neighbors said the family, while
desperate to find closure in Harms' disappearance, had seemed to try to
move past it. For the second year in a row, they said, the family
decorated a Christmas tree - after years of forgoing holidays.
The Peet's store was closed Sunday. But a young man who works next door
gave an account of the shooting, which he said was witnessed by his best
The friend, he said, was washing dishes when a man yelled, "That's the
man who killed my sister!" Another person called for security, saying they
were being stalked. There were two gunshots in rapid succession, and later
San Jose police Sgt. Jason Dwyer said the incident began minutes
earlier, when Sanchez and Nasmeh exchanged words in a Red Robin restaurant
in the same shopping center.
"It is believed that during the course of the conversation, the suspect
accused the victim of being responsible for the murder of Jeanine Harms,"
Dwyer said in a press release.
Dwyer said Sanchez left and then returned, prompting Nasmeh to leave
and go to Peet's. Sanchez followed him there and engaged him in
conversation again before shooting him.
"The suspect left the coffee shop and walked into the parking lot,"
Dwyer said. "As San Jose Police officers arrived on scene, they heard a
sound they believed to be a gunshot. The officers located the suspect in
the parking lot, deceased from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot
Focus on rug
Harms, who was 42, vanished July 27, 2001, after a night out in
Campbell. Her body has never been found.
Nasmeh was arrested in December 2004 following a 3 1/2-year
investigation during which police made public a photograph of a
Persian-style rug that was among the objects missing from Harms' home.
Authorities said a woman came forward and said she and her daughter had
picked up such a rug about the time Harms disappeared. It was rolled up at
a construction site a half-mile from Nasmeh's home.
Analysis by two crime labs indicated that fibers from the rug matched
ones found at Harms' home and in the cargo bed of Nasmeh's 2000 Jeep Grand
Cherokee, authorities said.
However, a judge dismissed murder charges in June 2007 after
prosecutors conceded they were unprepared to go to trial. Nasmeh was
ordered released after spending about 2 1/2 years in jail.
"I don't consider (Nasmeh) to be the suspect," Deputy District Attorney
Dale Sanderson said after moving to drop the charges. "I consider him to
be the murderer."
On Sunday, Sanderson declined comment.
Jensen, Nasmeh's attorney, said his client had consistently told police
the same story: that he met Harms at a Campbell bar, returned to her house
to drink beer and smoke marijuana, and left her dozing on her couch after
Jensen said the rug fiber evidence was weak and that prosecutors had
little other evidence against Nasmeh.
On Sunday, there was no sign that the coffee shop killing had happened
on findjeanine.com, a website dedicated to putting away Harms' killer. A
ticker in the upper right corner said she had been missing for 3,461