That advice from a California fortuneteller, who told Tanya Nelson to get over a lost lover, was clearly the last thing the North Carolina woman wanted to hear. A California superior court jury Thursday convicted Nelson, 45, of masterminding the murders of mind reader Ha "Jade" Smith, 52, and her daughter, Anita Vo.
Photo: Ha "Jade" Smith.
Nelson, of Roanoke Rapids, N.C. could get the death penalty.
Nelson hired Smith, a popular fortuneteller in the Vietnamese community, to get her ex-lover back. But when the soothsayer told her to accept reality, she became upset and plotted to drive across the country to kill her, Orange County prosecutors said.
Photo: Ha "Jade" Smith and Anita Vo.
Prosecutors said Smith and her daughter were stabbed as many as 10 times and their faces and hands were covered in white paint, which may have been an attempt to cover up evidence. The killings occurred five years ago.
Nelson lured an accomplice, Phillipe Zamora, 55, into the murder scheme by promising to fix him up with gay sex partners.
Zamora, who was a key witness against Nelson, pleaded guilty last year to two counts of first-degree murder and faces 50 years to life in prison when he is sentenced next week.
Nelson, who also uses the name Phuong Thao Nguyen and used to live in Orange County, was also convicted of robbery for stealing Smith's expensive jewelry and assuming her identity after the killings to buy $3,000 in clothing and plane tickets for a family vacation in Southern California.
She traveled from North Carolina to Westminster intending to murder Smith, returned home and was arrested when she returned to Orange County on a family vacation. When she was arrested, she had Smith's stolen credit cards, her identification cards and designer luggage.
Smith, known as Miss Ha in the local Vietnamese community, did card and palm readings and had clients across the country. She was famous among Vietnamese-Americans for wearing expensive jewelry and was considered a skilled fortune-teller.