Police arrest, charge husband in death of Marina district salon owner 

San Francisco police arrested a San Leandro man for allegedly bludgeoning his wife to death in a crime that shocked Marina district residents and merchants, who knew the victim as a hardworking hair salon owner with a constant smile.

Jeff Nguyen, 39, was arrested and charged with one count of murder Wednesday night, 11 days after he reported his 37-year-old wife, Mai Banh, missing and 10 days after he told police he found her body at the hair salon she owned, Le Petit Salon at 1325 Chestnut St.

Police said evidence from the salon, the couple’s San Leandro home and Nguyen’s vehicle connected him to the killing.

The couple’s two boys, ages 4 and 8, were taken into custody by Alameda County Child Protective Services on Wednesday. Nguyen will be arraigned at 9 a.m. today in San Francisco County Superior Court.

Issam Ahmadie, who owns a hair salon next door to Banh’s shop, said the arrest would give the neighborhood peace.

"Whoever did it needs to be in [jail]. You don’t want them out and running around," he said. "She had a lot of friends, and we had a lot of common customers."

Banh’s killing also spooked neighborhood business owners and residents, who began fearing for their own safety. In the days before Nguyen was arrested, police handed out fliers to quell frightened neighbors’ concerns.

"The flier said that this did not appear to be a random event, and that while it was disturbing, there wasn’t reason for anybody else to be concerned,"said San Francisco police Capt. Kevin Dillon, who oversees Northern Station in the Marina.

It was clear early on that Banh was the victim of a targeted attack, police said. Nguyen quickly emerged as the primary suspect. Police would not provide details on the evidence that was found.

"It was pretty evident based on the length of time it took to make this arrest that it was the husband that committed this," San Francisco police Sgt. Steve Mannina said.

Police said Nguyen reported his wife missing to the San Leandro Police Department at 6 p.m. April 14. The next day at 10 a.m., police said, Nguyen called 911 saying he found Banh dead in her salon. She suffered from stab wounds and blunt trauma, police said.

Mannina said Banh’s salon was open for business the afternoon of April 14, the day Nguyen reported her missing.

Ahmadie said he saw Banh at 5 p.m. that day, working in her salon, as he was leaving work. He said it was not uncommon for her to work late nights.


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