Severed head of elderly man found in San Francisco refrigerator, court documents state
SAN FRANCISCO (KTVU) - As a daughter and son-in-law faced charges for the first time in San Francisco this week, new details about the gruesome death of a 73-year-old father emerged in court documents.
Benedict Ching’s severed head was found in his Outer Mission District refrigerator, San Francisco Assistant District Attorney Omid Talai wrote in bail documents released on Monday. Blood and a circular saw were found in the bathtub at 161 Del Monte Street, and “biological material” was found floating in the toilet.
Ching’s daughter, Stephanie Ching, 35, and husband, Douglas Lomas, 44, were arraigned on Monday in San Francisco Superior Court on charges of murder and conspiracy, which occurred sometime between May 15 and 20 – about two months after the pair and their two young boys had moved in with Benedict Ching.
“This just keeps getting worse,” said Lomas’ brother, TJ Lomas II, 49, of Illinois, who spoke to KTVU by phone on Tuesday. “We are shocked.”
A motive for Ching’s death was not spelled out.
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Stephanie Ching’s attorney, Jose Pericles Umali, told reporters outside court that he couldn't reveal anything his client has told him. He said he expects to enter a not guilty plea at some point. Douglas Lomas’ lawyer, Deputy Public Defender Kleigh Hathaway, left court without speaking to reporters. A judge forbade photographers from capturing images of the defendants' faces, allowing cameras to aim at their backs.
TJ Lomas told KTVU that he hadn’t talked to his brother in 14 years and that he had “always been an angry character” but his behavior worsened after a “brain injury.”
About two months ago, just about the time he moved in with Benedict Ching, TJ Lomas said his brother “started surfacing” again. TJ Lomas said his brother told him he had married Stephanie Ching, but he wasn’t sure if the relationship was official.
The couple did not enter a plea and is being held without bail. Their next court hearing is Thursday.
In the motion to deny bail, Talai described how Benedict Ching’s sister and employer were first worried about him, and he outlined what the bloody scene looked like when officers finally arrived.
Benedict Ching did not show up for his job on May 15 and wasn’t answering his phone, which was unusual for him, according to his employer, William Steiner, and sister, Lilia Ching.
On May 19, the two went to Benedict Ching’s house to check on him. Douglas Lomas cracked open the door partially, telling Steiner that the family was ill. Douglas Lomas also told Steiner than Benedict Ching had left earlier that day, although Steiner noticed the older gentlemen’s car was parked outside, the documents state. Douglas Lomas than “abruptly” shut the front door and refused to let Steiner or Lilia Ching enter, the documents state.
The next day, police were called to do a welfare check at Benedict Ching’s home. Lilia Ching let officers inside her brother’s home. It was “suspiciously messier” than usual, the documents state, and officers had to move a large cardboard blockade at the entrance of the kitchen.
Officers found cardboard and plastic lining the walls and bathtub, where there was blood and a circular saw inside. Some type of “biological material” was in the toilet. The CSI unit was called. Inside, officers found human body parts, including a severed head, inside the refrigerator. Rolls of plastic sheeting, latex gloves, duct tape and other tools were found throughout the house, documents state.
Stephanie Ching and Douglas Lomas were nowhere to be found.
Prosecutors say they and their two boys boarded a May 20 flight to Beijing at 2 a.m. They were arrested in China and returned to the United States on Saturday.
As for the boys, TJ Lomas said they are staying with family.
As for how his family is taking the news, he said simply: “Mostly we feel sick.”