BY ROBERT P. MADER
OF CONTRACTOR'S STAFF
SAN FRANCISCO — Three years ago on Halloween, Victor Bach, owner of Western Plumbing & Heating here and a past president of Mechanical Contractors Association of America, was bludgeoned to death in his office. No one has been arrested for the crime.
After the slaying, however, his widow, Kathleen Bach, who was employed at Western Plumbing & Heating, was arrested and charged with embezzling $ 1.9 million from the contracting firm. A grand jury formally indicted her Aug. 10. A trial is pending.
With the homicide investigation turning into a cold case, the Bach family has hired a private investigator and has filed a wrongful death suit against Kathleen Bach. A $100,000 reward, administered by the city of San Francisco, has been offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the killer.
The family has erected a billboard asking for information and publicizing the reward in Redding, Calif., the hometown of Kathleen Bach.
"Why a private investigator?" asked Victor Bach's sister Sandra Hayes. "[The San Francisco Police Department] has no leads and in the past 21/2 years this brutal homicide has become a cold case, with no active investigation. The homicide is a separate case, not connected to the fraud-embezzlement (trial)."
Reward ads have been running in the Redding Searchlight newspaper, Hayes said, and the San Mateo Daily. The ads have provided information, she said.
Hayes said she will not let the case go until she feels her brother has had justice. She has telephoned, written and emailed San Francisco Police Chief Heather J. Fong, Deputy Chief Morris Tabak and investigators, San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsome and the San Francisco Chronicle newspaper.
"SFPD has no leads in this homicide, no active investigation and to have Capt. [Kevin] Cashman tell me there is 'no statute of limitations' is less then cold comfort," Hayes said in a letter to Newsome. "His statement equates to 'this is a case gathering dust' and maybe the family's private investigator or the DA's office will solve this homicide.
"Numerous e-mails have been sent to Chief Fong, Deputy Chief Tabak and Capt. Cashman, [with] not even a courtesy reply, which shows a lack of empathy and an attitude that is not acceptable. If this is happening to the Bach family, how many other families are being treated this way?"
Bach was associated with MCAA since he was 18 and was an MCAA board member since 1985. Victor's father, Al Bach, was president of the San Francisco chapter and the last national director of MCAA for the San Francisco area before his son became director.
Victor Bach took office as national president of MCAA in February 1991. He also held many positions with Northern California MCA, including the presidency of that group.
Bach was a graduate of the University of California at Berkeley and was a registered mechanical engineer. He was a partner in Western Plumbing & Heating from 1970 to Oct. 31, 2003.
The family of Victor Bach has established the VB Fund account with Citibank. The fund supports a private investigator, attorneys for the wrongful death civil suit, attorneys for the Bach Trust civil suit and reward ads. The average cost per month is $5,000, Hayes said. Donations may be sent to the VB Fund care of Sandra B. Hayes, 6341 Caminito Salado, San Diego, CA 92111 or Kerry Bach (Victor's brother), 137 Fairmont Ave., San Carlos, CA 94070.