The regional and national media has descended on little Emeryville trying to extract as much information as possible about the accused killer of tech entrepreneur Bob Lee.
Lee was stabbed to death in the early morning of April 4th setting off speculation that the killing was tied to the city’s perceived lawlessness. Instead, Lee’s killing appears to not be completely random.
Emeryville resident Nima Momeni was arrested in Lee’s killing at his Besler Building Loft in Emeryville’s Park Avenue District in the early morning of April 13.
Most neighbors, but not all, have spoken glowingly to the media about Momeni in the aftermath of his arrest.
The 38-year-old Momeni worked in IT as the proprietor of a business called Expand IT which offered a variety of technological services and support.
It was also revealed that Momeni has a brief criminal history including possession of an illegal switchblade knife that he tried to sell and was ordered by the courts to destroy (this charge was later dropped after he spent 10 days in jail).
Neighbors have begun to come forth to offer what little they knew about Momeni with some possible clues that might bolster the case against him.
Besler neighbors who interacted with Momeni mostly describing him as warm or even cordial. “We’re shocked” expressed Sam Singer who operates a PR business at the Besler building. “He seemed like a nice individual and even offered us a tour of his unit.”
Not everyone had the same impression of Momeni though with one former neighbor at another complex claiming he was not well liked by neighbors. “All the neighbors hated – HATED – this guy,” they shared in a Nextdoor post about the incident. “He was rude, stunk up the hallways with his cigs (which was illegal), yelled all the time, completely inconsiderate, refused to pay rent for four-five months. Just an awful human being. But even though he was such a lowlife, we were shocked that he’s accused of killing someone.”
“He is the reason city council passed a smoking ban in multi-unit buildings,” claimed another neighbor who validated claims of Momeni’s uncivil behavior.
A Forbes.com report noted that Momeni threw frequent house parties with loud music that irked his neighbors.
The Daily Beast provided another neighbor’s account of Momeni describing him as a “tough guy, training all the time, super into weapons.” and that he had guns and knives lying around what he described as his “bachelor-pad” apartment.
One fairly incriminating piece of information provided was a post by a neighbor on the Besler Facebook group noting an early morning incident the day before Lee’s killing.
“This morning at 2:30am a woman knocked our door loudly and tried to open it. We didn’t open the door but she wouldn’t stop knocking so I asked her to leave. She was looking for someone. The second time she knocked our door I told her I was going to call the police, so she stopped but kept roaming around the hallways and screaming ‘Nemas’ or at least that’s what I understood. Did she knock on anyone else’s door? She looked young, with dark hair and was wearing a black coat. I don’t understand, how can just anyone get in the building and do that?”
Lee was killed the next day after being stabbed multiple times in the chest.
Hours after Lee’s killing, Momeni phoned an Emeryville neighbor asking him for “all his alcohol” according to a Forbes.com report. A few days later, Momeni asked this neighbor to “travel to Colombia with him” according to the same report.
Timeline and Possible Motive Revealed at Arraignment
Momeni was arraigned on Friday at the SF Hall of Justice. Documents filed by S.F. District Attorney Brooke Jenkins provide a clearer picture of the case against him. The DA’s office filed a Motion to Detain without Bail against Momeni claiming he is a threat to public safety.
Court documents portray the conflict that led to Lee’s death as a confrontation between him and Momeni stemming from a possible relationship between Lee and Momeni’s sister Khazar Elyassnia. Elyassnia is married to prominent SF plastic surgeon Dr. Dino Elyassnia although it’s been implied that the couple’s marriage was experiencing turbulence or even separation.
The Forbes report describes Momeni and his family as immigrants from Iran who fled after the 1979 Revolution. Momeni and his family are Zoroastrian, an ancient religion whose members have frequently been persecuted for their beliefs by the current Islamic regime.
Nima Momeni, the suspected killer of Bob Lee, was arraigned at a San Francisco court Friday morning.
In attendance were his sister, Khazar Elyassnia, and her husband, prominent SF plastic surgeon Dr. Dino Elyassnia.
🧵⬇️ (1/16) pic.twitter.com/do57qgQ8bU
— The San Francisco Standard (@sfstandard) April 15, 2023
Lee, a former SF resident, had recently moved to Miami but was visiting SF on business.
Lee and Khazar Elyassnia were apparently socializing and drinking together the night of Lee’s murder. Momeni confronted Lee about whether his sister was “doing drugs or anything inappropriate.”
I’ll be in SF this weekend 🤷♂️. How are you not in Miami yet?
— Bob Lee (@crazybob) March 9, 2023
Momeni and Lee left the Millennium Tower where Khazar lived in Momeni’s white BMW at about 2 a.m. It was described that Momeni was taking Lee to his hotel but instead drove him to a secluded part of the city in Rincon Hill where the physical confrontation occurred.
It is here where Momeni allegedly stabbed Lee three times with a four-inch kitchen knife. The weapon was later located nearby by SFPD. Lee was able to call 911 through his phone and Police first responded to reports of a stabbing at 2:35 a.m. in the 300 block of Main Street. Lee was transported to a local hospital but succumbed to his injuries.
SFPD were later able to unlock Lee’s phone revealing a text to him by Momeni’s sister around the time of the incident. “Just wanted to make sure your doing ok Cause [I] know Nima came wayyyyyy down hard on you. Thank you for being such a classy man handling it with class.”
A more comprehensive timeline of events can be read on missionlocal.org.
First Degree Murder Charges Filed
The murder is being described as “premeditated” since Momeni allegedly brought the kitchen knife with him and drove Lee to a secluded place. Momeni faces a special allegation that the murder was committed with a knife.
Momeni’s lawyer was on vacation at the time of the hearing and a formal plea has not yet been entered. Momeni is scheduled to return on court on April 25.
Anyone with more information is encouraged to contact the SFPD tip line at (415) 575-4444 or to send a tip by text message to TIP411 with “SFPD” at the start of the message.
Feature Image: MyOpportunity.com