Murder In Anaheim (Updated)
From this source, on May 29, 2007:
Read the entire article.
The victims were stabbed, strangled and burned, according to the documents. The Dhanaks' Anaheim Hills home was set on fire.
Iftekhar Murtaza was identified by a "victim," according to police documents presented to the Superior Court.
The motive for the crime appears to be a dispute over religion.
"Information developed revealed the suspect was upset with Shayona's parents and sister for discontinuing the relationship due to different religious backgrounds, Hindu and Muslim," the papers said.
The Dhanaks were reported by friends and neighbors to be devout members of the strict Swaminarayan branch of Hinduism. Murtaza is Muslim.
This blogger has posted about the above story, here and here. From the second of those postings:
second recent hate crime in america by the beloved 'south asian' brothers. first one last week was when a sikh boy had his hair chopped off forcibly in new york. second is this.MSNBC has published this story on the web. In spite of the family's financial and legal difficulties,
it is clearly a religious hate crime.
this is a premedidated and absolutely brutal act of jihad by more than one mohammedan.
Anaheim police spokesman Sgt. Rick Martinez said police did not believe the crime to be a murder-suicide.Not as a hate crime, as was the bacon on the Koran?
"We're treating this as a double homicide," Martinez said.
According to this source:
...Van Nuys resident Iftekhar Murtaza was arrested by U.S. Marshals at Sky Harbor Airport in Phoenix, Arizona, as he was attempting to leave the country.Details are still developing. Let's see how much coverage the mainstream media will give the above story, particularly if the crime turns out to have been motivated by the kill-the-infidel ideology of Islam.
Murtaza is being called a person of interest in the May 21, 2007, Anaheim murders of 56-year-old Jayprakash Dhanak and 20-year-old Karishima Dhanak, and the assault on 53-year-old Leela Dhanak. Karishima Dhanak was the daughter of Jayprakash and Leela.
Leela Dhanak was beaten with a blunt instrument and taken to the hospital. The burned bodies of Jayprakash and Karishima were found later on May 22 on a remote bike path in Irvine.
According to court documents acquired by the Orange County Register, Murtaza was arrested at a Phoenix airport with a one way ticket to Bangladesh.
The court documents detail for the first time a motive for the brutal crimes. Murtaza is Muslim. His girlfriend, 18-year-old Shayona Dhanak, younger sister of Karishma and daughter of Jayprakash who were killed are Hindu, according to the OC Register.
Court documents say that the parents and sister pushed Shayona to discontinue her relationship with Murtaza, according to the OC Register.
Witnesses told detectives they saw two people attacking Leela on the front lawn on May 21, and the Dhanak's Anaheim house was set on fire; the cars in front of the house were also burned.
Update from the May 31, 2007 LA Times, update reproduced in full:
This story is looking more and more like a personal jihad.
Rampage against Anaheim family tied to breakup?
Hindu parents of a UC Irvine student disliked her boyfriend being Muslim. The parents and another daughter were brutally attacked.
By Ashley Powers and Dave McKibben
Times Staff Writers
May 31, 2007
She was a college freshman whose Hindu family didn't believe in dating before marriage. He was a Muslim, which troubled her parents, and they convinced her that he wasn't the one.
Their breakup, investigators said, might have played a role in a string of vicious crimes that unfolded in Orange County last week: Her Anaheim Hills home was set ablaze, her mother savagely beaten and her father and sister killed. The victims had been strangled, bludgeoned, burned and stabbed, according to court records.
The young man, Iftekhar Murtaza, 22, of Van Nuys, was arrested last weekend at the Phoenix airport in connection with the slayings. He had left Southern California after investigators questioned him and was carrying a one-way ticket to Bangladesh.
Phone records indicated that Murtaza's cellphone had been used less than two miles from one of the crime scenes an hour or so before the killings. He told authorities he was not in Anaheim that day, court documents said.
Even with the arrest, much about the sequence of the brutal acts — with two crime scenes, three victims and varying witness accounts of what happened over a five-hour span — remains a mystery.
Murtaza, described by authorities as a "person of interest" and considered a flight risk, is being held in Phoenix, with an extradition hearing to return him to California scheduled for this morning. No charges have been filed against him, and police said they are looking for multiple suspects. His attorney did not return phone calls seeking comment.
A few weeks before the slayings, Murtaza and his girlfriend, Shayona Dhanak, an 18-year-old UC Irvine student, had broken up after three years. It was unclear how the pair met and how they had dated for so long despite her family's disapproval.
Murtaza had stayed off and on at a condominium on Langdon Avenue in North Hills, where his parents most recently lived. He worked at a loan company, said a woman affiliated with the Langdon Village homeowners association.
His penchant for blowing through stop signs in flashy cars — first a Mustang convertible, lately a Range Rover — annoyed neighbors, said the woman, who declined to give her name. Murtaza has been ticketed for speeding in Orange, Riverside and San Bernardino counties.
Murtaza's family sold the condo about a month ago and had purchased real estate in Gilbert, Ariz., property records show. His father, however, still works at a convenience store in Van Nuys called Discount Cigarette. He declined to comment Wednesday.
"I strongly believe that he has no part in it," said Ishtiak Murtaza, one of Iftekhar Murtaza's older brothers, according to the Associated Press.
Shayona Dhanak, said several friends, often brought Murtaza to movies, the mall and miniature golf with her girlfriends. He "was a goofy guy. He was a happy-type person," said one 20-year-old UC Irvine student who asked not to be identified.
He "was a caring guy and a good friend," said another young woman. "I never saw any tension of any kind. He was really friendly. We would all just hang out. I never could have imagined anything like this."
The Dhanaks and their elder daughter, Karishma, an Orange Coast College student who dreamed of becoming a makeup artist, apparently pushed for Shayona Dhanak to end the relationship "due to different religious backgrounds, Hindu and Muslim," court documents said.
Leela Dhanak, 53, and her husband, Jayprakash, 56, had emigrated from India to California, where the couple worked their way up from low-level mail sorting jobs, said neighbors and their former attorneys. They had lived in a two-story Anaheim Hills home for about a decade.
Neighbors described them as polite and unobtrusive, though Jayprakash "Jay" Dhanak had a criminal record. In 2002, he pleaded guilty to bilking the U.S. Postal Service as the operations manager for a direct-mail company and was sentenced to 27 months in federal prison.
The case represented about $7.9 million in losses, postal inspectors said. Charges against Leela Dhanak were dropped.
Investigators are continuing to look into whether Jay Dhanak's past is linked to the slayings.
Leela and Jay Dhanak were active in their Whittier temple, where she taught religion classes and which they represented at Hindu conventions. The temple advocated a rigorous style of Hinduism "as a way of preserving culture and protecting their children from what they perceive to be the evils of Western society," according to a Times article about the temple.
Strict adherents forgo television, drugs, meat, alcohol and dating before marriage. Men and women are separated during worship.
Women may not hold leadership positions or speak to the saints or the swami, tenets uncommon to other Hindu sects, the article said.
The temple "was saddened to learn of the tragic events surrounding the Dhanak family…. However, with the strength of our collective faith and the blessings of God, we are sure that we will overcome this period," read a spokesman's statement after the crimes were publicized.
Authorities arriving at a late-night blaze at the Dhanaks' home on May 21 discovered Leela Dhanak bludgeoned and unconscious on a neighbor's lawn. Neighbors reported seeing a young, slender man dragging Leela Dhanak out of her home just before smoke started pouring from the back of the house and a vehicle sped away.
Just after 4 a.m. May 22, Irvine authorities responded to reports of smoke coming from William R. Mason Regional Park, near Concordia University and UC Irvine, about 20 miles from the home.
At the origin of a quickly doused brush fire were the badly burned bodies of Jay and Karishma Dhanak. She was identified through fingerprints that day and her father through dental records later that week.
Leela Dhanak, and her daughter — who did not live with her family and was unharmed — were placed under police protection.
Authorities interviewed Murtaza last week, and shortly afterward he left for Arizona, said a source close to the investigation who was not authorized to speak publicly about the case. Court records indicated that a victim had alerted officers to Murtaza's possible involvement.
Over the weekend, authorities filed an arrest warrant in Orange County, which has been sealed, the source said. Anaheim police told U.S. marshals Friday that Murtaza was flying into Sky Harbor International Airport from LAX on the first leg of a trip to Bangladesh, said Arizona District U.S. Marshal David Gonzalez.
Four deputy U.S. marshals stopped Murtaza in a terminal that night and confirmed his identity with his passport and ID. "It was very uneventful," Gonzalez said.
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