WSJ goes total New York Post with S.F. Bob Lee murder expose

Lee Heidhues 5.14.2023

The Wall Street Journal is not reluctant to practice tabloid style journalism.

In a lengthy piece more suited for The New York Post the WSJ lays out in granular detail the facts and players involved in the murder of tech entrepreneur Bob Lee last month.

The murder, initially attributed to one of San Francisco’s myriad unhoused, fed into the current law and order paranoia sweeping San Francisco. And fed into the current faddish narrative the City is in a “doom loop” of rampant crime and economic collapse.

The true source of the crime, in all its sordid details, quickly became known. And since has gone global.

It’s somewhat fitting that the Wall Street Journal, rather than the super tabloid New York Post, is running this story.

Rupert Murdoch owns both publications.

Excerpted from The Wall Street Journal 5.14.2023

The WSJ expose graphic headlines its “investigative” piece

This account is based on interviews with friends, co-workers and acquaintances of Bob Lee and the Momeni family, and records released by city agencies, including the District Attorney’s office.

SAN FRANCISCO—In certain wealthy tech circles it is known as “The Lifestyle,” an underground party scene featuring recreational drug use and casual sex.

A successful tech executive named Bob Lee liked to hang out with that crowd, according to people who also participated. So, too, did Khazar Momeni, the wife of a prominent plastic surgeon, these people said.

On the afternoon of April 3, a Monday, the partying took a dark turn. According to San Francisco prosecutors, Ms. Momeni’s older brother confronted Mr. Lee about her. Was she taking drugs or doing anything inappropriate, he wanted to know. Hours later the brother, Nima Momeni, stabbed Mr. Lee with a kitchen knife and left him to bleed out in the street, prosecutors alleged. Mr. Momeni, who was arrested on suspicion of murder, is being held without bail. He plans to plead not guilty, his attorney said. 

Nima Momeni, accused killer of Bob Lee in San Francisco Superior Court

Surveillance footage from the Millennium Tower shows Mr. Momeni pull up in a white BMW, and then later, around 2 a.m., Messrs. Lee and Momeni leave the building and climb into Mr. Momeni’s car together.

Prosecutors allege that Mr. Momeni drove Mr. Lee to a dark and secluded area several streets over, in San Francisco’s Rincon Hill neighborhood. The area is punctuated with upscale condo buildings. The lights of the Bay Bridge that connects the city to Oakland and Berkeley sparkle behind office towers.

They allege that Mr. Momeni used a silver kitchen knife with a four-inch black blade to repeatedly stab Mr. Lee. Mr. Momeni drove quickly away from the scene, according to court documents that cite surveillance video.

Mr. Lee, bleeding profusely, called 911 for help before collapsing on the sidewalk. He was rushed to a hospital, where he later died.

Mr. Lee’s death has transfixed San Francisco. At first viewed by critics including Elon Musk as a symbol of the city’s increasing street violence, the episode instead laid bare risk-taking behavior in the upper reaches of Bay Area society, fueled by cocaine and designer drugs. 

Mr. Momeni is expected to appear at an arraignment and detention hearing later this month. Prosecutors haven’t offered a motive for his alleged crime. His attorney, Paula Canny, said, “My team and I continue to work hard to investigate all the many aspects of this case and the goings-on of the weeks preceding the incident.”

During the pandemic, with the San Francisco party scene largely shut down, Mr. Lee spent months traveling around Los Angeles and Mexico, said Gift Kerati, a friend of his from Thailand who said she spent much of that time with him. 

Bob Lee and friend in Cabo, Mexico

Ms. Kerati, who met Mr. Lee at a private party in Acapulco, said that Mr. Lee had several girlfriends during that time and other women he was sleeping with, but that he was always respectful toward them.

“He is literally one of the best human beings I’ve ever met,” said Ms. Kerati. She said Mr. Lee attended parties and used drugs because he liked to share experiences with a lot of different people, from all walks of life. 

Ms. Momeni and her older brother Nima were born in Iran to a family that is Zoroastrian, an ancient religion whose members were persecuted in that country, according to people familiar with the family. They moved to the U.S. with their mother, a dental assistant, and settled in the Bay Area. The siblings were very close, with Mr. Momeni frequently following his sister, who goes by “Tina,” around clubs or parties.

At another point, following a breakup with a longer-term girlfriend, Mr. Lee told friends that he was casually sleeping with Ms. Momeni, according to people familiar with their relationship.  

Khazar Elyassnia (left) and Dr. Dino Elyassnia (right) attend the arraignment of Nima Momeni at the Hall of Justice in San Francisco, April 14, 2023. Khazar is the sister of Nima, who is accused of the killing of Bob Lee, the Tech CEO that was stabbed on April 4th

Ms. Momeni “was married, but the relationship had possibly been in jeopardy,” prosecutors have alleged in court documents.

Ms. Momeni’s husband, Dino Elyassnia, is a prominent San Francisco plastic surgeon. His Instagram page, with more than 30,000 followers, shows the results of nose jobs and face-lifts. “Happy International Women’s Day to my wife and all the amazing women I work with every day in our office,” wrote Mr. Elyassnia in a March post, showcasing a photo of Ms. Momeni in a tank top.