MARK GILLESPIE/Livingston County News
Customers have lined the front wall of Magic Nails with flowers in memory of slain owner Tai Ho.
Widow keeping salon open after husband is killed
The 33-year-old wife of a Lakeville nail salon owner vows to keep his business going after he was killed following a child custody dispute.
Tai Ho, 32, was the owner of Magic Nails at 5804 Big Tree Road. His wife Ai “Ann” Ho learned from police reports that her husband had been shot by his uncle in Rochester on Oct. 6, two days after the birth of their son Scott.
“When my husband saw him, he was so happy,” remembers Ann, choking back tears. “But he was busy. He didn’t get any time with [the baby.]”
The couple went to high school together in Vietnam and were reunited when he returned to the country to work as an engineer. They have a five-year-old son that Tai, who was a naturalized citizen, was planning to bring to the U.S.
Now, following the death of her husband, the earliest Ann can expect to bring her son over is two years from now after she becomes a citizen.
The circumstances of Tai’s death are a complex, unconventional family situation that led to a bitter relationship between Tai and his uncle Tai Vinh Dac Phan, 54, of Rochester. “He would get so mad,” Ann relates. “I’d have to say, “calm down.”
Tai’s had legal custody of Danny, a 10-year-old son from a previous relationship. Danny’s maternal grandmother lives in Rochester with Tai’s uncle — and the couple had agreed to keep Danny and let him go to school in Rochester while Tai established a home in Lakeville.
This year, Danny was enrolled at Livonia and living at his father’s apartment during the week — and with his grandmother on the weekend.
According to Ann, Tai went to Rochester to retrieve Danny and got into a heated argument with his uncle — whom she says wanted custody of Tai’s son. Witnesses reported hearing a gunshot. Rochester police later charged Phan with second degree murder.
Ann didn’t learn of her husband’s death until television news reports. She went from hospital to hospital trying to find him until learning he had been taken to the morgue.
Tai’s parents have requested that his body be returned to Vietnam, and Ann will accompany him to the burial and have a chance to visit with her son again. Meanwhile, she says she will to return to Livonia and keep Magic Nails open as she works toward citizenship.
“When my kids live here, it’s better than back home in my country. They have a good life here.”
A friend is helping Ann with the baby and keeping her company during this ordeal. Ann says she can hardly bear to be at home in her apartment.
“I can’t come into the house — it’s just me and my kid. We live along, we have no family, nothing. Just my husband.”