- Jan 17:
- Harms' brother was upset there was 'no closure' to case
- Woman who introduced Harms to Nasmeh haunted by that moment
- Family: Harms' brother believed suspect had 'gotten away with murder'
- Jan 16:
- Photo slide show: The Jeanine Harms murder case through the years
- Jeanine Harms' brother kills chief suspect, then himself
- Jul 25:
- 9 years later, Jeanine Harms case still a mystery
So now we'll hear talk of closure: A brother avenges his sister by shooting the man suspected of murdering her, inside a Peet's Coffee & Tea in West San Jose. Then he kills himself in the parking lot. A tragedy, yes, but someone will say we can finally put the case of Jeanine Harms behind us.
Only there is no closure, no certainty, no body, no solace. The fatal shooting of suspect Maurice Nasmeh (pronounced NESS-muh) and the suicide by Wayne Sanchez only deepen the curse behind one of Silicon Valley's most infamous crimes.
Sanchez, 52, might have been unemployed and living with his parents. He might have been dealing with his own demons. Yet he was a grandfather who left behind two daughters, ages 20 and 18. He was a son who departed from two distraught parents.
"We're devastated by the loss of our father," Sanchez's daughter Nicole told KNTV News. "He was a great dad and grandpa."
To those who cling to the hope of finding out exactly what happened on July 27, 2001, when the 42-year-old Harms disappeared from her Los Gatos home, Saturday's shooting delivered a stinging blow.
If Nasmeh killed her, as police believe, then any hope of recovering her body or learning how she died vanished with him.
Watching this case unfold has been like seeing a deadly car crash in slow motion. At any point, you pray things might have gone differently.
If only Harms had not invited Nasmeh and another man back to her place
I interviewed Nasmeh when he was released in 2007, after the prosecution's fiber case ran into problems. What struck me was his lack of outrage: He was matter-of-fact, a guy who was disappointed that he had to spend 30 months in jail, concerned that taxpayers had to put out the money, but eager to get back to his architectural business.
He seemed too measured, too scripted, too polite. And that made me conclude that he knew far more about Harms' disappearance than his story suggested. (He said he left her sleeping on the sofa after she had played him a Neil Young song on her guitar.)
By the same token, Nasmeh gave off a vibe more weird than evil. That's always led me to think that if he killed Harms, it was unlikely to be carefully premeditated, even if the disposal of the body demanded cool nerve.
That's the sheerest speculation, only a gut feeling: And now we're unlikely to know for sure. (A cold-crime detective who looked at this case found something interesting: Nasmeh typically called women the day after a date to thank them. He left no message for Harms.)
You'll inevitably hear people say, "Well, if it was your sister who had died, wouldn't you do the same as Wayne Sanchez?"
As much as I'd be tempted, I have to answer no. Vigilantism forecloses possibilities for justice and the chance of knowing the truth. And where does it stop? In a different society, a relative of Nasmeh might feel obligated to vengeance.
No, closure doesn't mark this sad tale. There is only a curse and a continuing mystery, one that the survivors of this saga never deserved.
Contact Scott Herhold at firstname.lastname@example.org or 408-275-0917.