Cause of death and weapon a mystery in S.F. mass murder 

  • Courtesy photo
  • Binh Thai Luc

District Attorney George Gascón’s office has charged a San Francisco man with murdering a family of five at an Ingleside home late last week.

Binh Thai Luc, 35, should be arraigned Wednesday on five counts of murder with a special-circumstances allegation of multiple murders. If convicted, he could face the death penalty or life in prison. Prosecutors were evaluating late Tuesday whether to add other charges, District Attorney’s Office spokesman Omid Talai said.

Luc was arrested early Sunday, after search warrants were served in San Francisco and San Mateo, police said. Chief Greg Suhr said that while an investigation is ongoing, the incident was specific to the home at 16 Howth St., where a relative of the victims made the grisly discovery Friday morning.

The five family members were found throughout the home and were subjected to blunt-force trauma, police said. An edged weapon may have been used, they added, but none has been recovered.

The medical examiner’s office, which has yet to determine a cause of death for the victims, has identified them as Vincent Lei, 32; Chia Huei Chu, 30; Ying Xue Lei, 37; Hua Shun Lei, 65; and Wan Yi Xu, 62.

The motive also remains unclear, though media reports have suggested gambling debts. Suhr said there might have been prior gang ties involved in the case, but the murders were not believed to be gang-motivated.

On Tuesday, investigators continued combing through the residence for clues. “We’re still following up on leads and processing evidence,” Officer Albie Esparza said.

A memorial has been set up outside the home, where one man was seeing offering a brief prayer.

Luc is being held without bail in an “observation area” of the jail, apart from the general population, which is not unusual in high-profile cases, said Sheriff’s Department spokeswoman Susan Fahey.

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