Suspect taken into custody in triple-murder of doctor and family in California
Pierre Haobsh, 27, is seen in an undated picture released by the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office in California. REUTERS/Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office/Handout via Reuters

A business associate of a prominent Chinese herbal medicine practitioner has been arrested for the murder of the doctor, his wife and daughter, whose bodies were found wrapped in plastic at their California home, authorities said.

The bullet-riddled bodies of Dr. Weidong Henry Han, 57, his wife Huijie "Jennie" Yu, 29, and their daughter Emily, who would have turned six on Saturday, were found on Wednesday after Han failed to show up for work.

Detectives arrested Pierre Haobsh, 27, a business associate of Han, on Friday at 12:30 a.m. as he pulled his red 2013 Lexus into a gas station near his home in Oceanside, about 83 miles south along the coast from Los Angeles. A loaded 9 mm handgun and "property believed to belong to one of the victims" was found in the car, the Santa Barbara Sheriff's Office said on its website.

The motive for the triple homicide, according to a preliminary investigation, appeared to be financial gain, the sheriff said.

Haobsh was to be booked at the Santa Barbara County Jail on three counts of murder.

"This was a diabolical, pre-meditated crime, one of the most odious that I have ever been involved with," Santa Barbara County Sheriff Bill Brown said.

Han was well known in the realms of both Chinese herbal and Western medicine, and co-authored several books on the integration of the two medical techniques. He owned and operated the Santa Barbara Herb Clinic, where his wife worked alongside him, the sheriff's office said.

The three bodies, wrapped in plastic and duct-taped, were found in the garage of the Han home in Santa Barbara, about 95 miles north of Los Angeles.

(Reporting by Barbara Goldberg in New York; Editing by Digby Lidstone)