Handyman Suspected in SDSU Employee's Death

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    NEWSLETTERS

    NBC 7 has confirmed the identity of a woman who was found murdered inside her Santee home on Sunday.

    Mary Shojai, 66, was found after a 911 call led paramedics to the home in the 10000 block of Strathmore Drive.

    Handyman Suspected in Santee Death

    [DGO] Handyman Suspected in Santee Death
    SDSU employee Mary Shojai was found dead in her home on Strathmore Drive Sunday. (Published Wednesday, Oct 3, 2012)

    Shojai was a staff member at SDSU for 37 years, most recently as director of Student Disability Services.

    Paul Tomasini, 64, was also found inside the home that night with injuries that required treatment at Sharp Memorial Hospital. Tomasini has been charged with first degree murder for the death of Shojai.

    Neighbors told NBC 7 that Tomasini worked as a handyman and may have been romantically involved with Shojai. At least one neighbor believed they were only friends.

    “She was very pleasant,” said neighbor Judy Ross.

    Other neighbors who didn’t want to be identified said Tomasini, right, had been suffering from severe depression and recently checked himself into a mental hospital.

    Lynn Gagne worked for Shojai in the department of disability services. Gagne, who is legally blind, said Shojai was her mentor and inspired her to go into the line of work where she could help others with disabilities.

    "I don't think saying she was my boss...just a tremendous loss to all of us," she said. "Its one thing if someone dies of ...its inconceivable."

    Investigators haven’t released a motive for the killing.

    “Obviously something made him snap for him to do something like this to her,” Ross said.

    Shojai leaves behind an adult son who lives in Santa Monica and an adult daughter who lives in Arizona.

    Tomasini was scheduled to be arraigned in court Wednesday, but its been pushed back because of medical reasons. On Thursday, the District Attorney's office said Tomasini was still under a "jail hold" and would not appear in court just yet.

    Investigators have not said how Shojai was killed.

    Investigators said there have been three homicides on this street in the last few years. The crimes are unrelated, but they did say it was unusual for one street to have so many incidents.

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