By M.P. Pellicer | Stranger Than Fiction Stories
In 2005, Ha "Jade" Smith and her daughter Anita were murdered. Was it a case of superstition or greed?
Tanya Nelson, 52, believed in fortune telling. She was a Vietnamense immigrant who came to the United States in 1979. Her family had done well in the Vietnamese community in Orange County, California, however in 2005, the mother of four had a downturn in her business.
She went to see Ha "Jade" Smith, a well-known fortune-teller known as "Miss Ha", who she had been consulting with for several years. Jade's advice was to move to North Carolina.
However it seemed Tanya could not outrun her bad luck. Even after her relocation to North Carolina, her business failed and she lost her house. She lay the blame squarely on Jade Smith.
On April 22, 2005, a friend of Jade and her daughter Anita Nhi Vo, came to their home, a small stucco house on Bird Ave in Little Saigon. She found their pet Pomeranian outside. Police were called. Inside they found both women dead. They were stabbed numerous times and the house was splattered with white paint. It was an unusual thing for a thief to do, however, jewelry and credit cards were taken. In the Vietnamese tradition the white paint is used to ward off evil.
Over a month later, police got a good lead when Tanya booked a flight to Orange County from North Carolina using Jade's credit card. She had also used the credit cards of both women to go on a shopping spree.
Police arrested her, and found the credit cards in her possession. The next move was to search her house. Here they found Phillipe Zamora who confessed to the police.
Both were held in Santa Ana on murder and burglary charges.
He said that Tanya asked him to fly with her to Orange County in order to murder Ha Jade Smith. In exchange she promised to set him up with other gay men she knew.
Zamora and Nelson, both Vietnamese were originally from Garden Grove. The pair were longtime clients of Jade Smith, and had set an appointment with her for a reading on the day of the killings. It was alleged that after taking Smith to breakfast, the pair set their plans in motion upon returning to the house on Bird Avenue. According to Anita Vo’s friends she was lured back to the house that afternoon by a call to her cellular phone.
According to Zamora Tanya stabbed Anita, and then she screamed for him to kill Jade. He hit the fortune teller with a wine bottle, then using a kitchen knife stabbed her several times. Then they went through the house taking items of value, and returned with white paint which they poured over the bodies.
By 2009, Phillipe Zamora, 55, had pled guilty to murder charges, and agreed to testify against Tanya. He was sentenced to 27 years to life.
The prosecutor said that Tanya was motivated by her anger at being misled by Anita's bad advice. During that time she was having an affair with her brother-in-law which he had ended. She had gone to see Jade about a reading in which they would reconcile. Tanya was also accused of trying to get her son to kill her lover's wife after the end of their affair.
In 2010, Tanya Jaime Nelson, 46, was found guilty of two counts of first-degree murder and was sentenced to death. The jury recommended this sentence. She has never admitted to the crime. She says that on the day of the murder she was in Orange County following her estranged husband.
Stranger Than Fiction Stories by M.P. Pellicer