The husband of a young mother who was gunned down in New Jersey while the couple was walking with their young son has been charged with her murder, and authorities have also arrested a Massachusetts woman in the killing.
Kashif Parvaiz, 26, was charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder, unlawful possession of a weapon and endangering the welfare of a child in connection with the murder of his wife, Nazish Noorani, 27.
Early today, U.S. Marshals in Billerica, Mass., outside Boston, also arrested Antoinette Stephen, 26, who has been charged with first-degree murder, conspiracy to commit murder and weapons charges, Morris County prosecutor Robert Bianchi said at a news conference today.
Stephen is believed to be the shooter. Bianchi did not characterize the relationship between Parvaiz and Stephen, saying: "There is obviously a relationship. I'm not saying it is a physical relationship."
The shooting occurred Tuesday night in Boonton, N.J., as the couple, with their 3-year-old son in a stroller, walked on a quiet suburban street after a meal with Noorani's family to break the Ramadan fast. The child was unhurt.
Bianchi said Parvaiz, who was wounded when his wife was killed, gave an account of the shooting "that there was a white male, three black males ... various conflicting accounts, who had yelled out racial epithets and called them 'terrorists.'"
But he said authorities determined that it was Parvaiz who was responsible.
Bianchi said in a statement that authorities were "particularly concerned" when they initially thought the Boonton murder was a bias crime. But he said they quickly concluded that "this was sadly the alleged handiwork of the victim's husband, who allegedly did the unthinkable and plotted to murder his wife after a religious celebration."
According to the arrest affidavit, Parvaiz told detectives who interviewed him in the hospital soon after the shooting that "there were issues in his marriage," and, "he was angry at his wife ... for speaking negatively about his family." He said those issues had escalated recently.
According to the affidavit, Parvaiz told his co-conspirator, who cops believe is Stephen, about his "turbulent relationship" with his wife, and was told she would "think of something" to help.
Police also interviewed Noorani's family, who said the victim had been physically abused by her husband and that he cheated on her. They also showed police a text message Noorani had sent to her brother, saying, "Someday u will find me dead but its cuz of kashi ... He wants to kill me."
The affidavit also revealed text messages that police said were exchanged between Parvaiz and Stephen. In one message, sent Aug. 12, Stephen told Parvaiz: "You hang in there. Freedom is just around ur corner."
The messages continued until the night of the murder.
Police, on their way to the murder scene, saw a blue Toyota Camry speeding with its lights turned off, the affidavit said.
A 2011 blue Toyota Camry is registered to Stephen's mother, police said.
Stephen is being held on $5 million bail, and Parvaiz is being held on $1 million bail, Bianchi said.
Noorani's funeral was held this afternoon at the Jam E-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton. She and her husband had lived in Boston recently, but she attended high school in Boonton, where her family lives.
Eddie Chrispin, a spokesman for the Boston Police Department, said that police came to Parvaiz's address on Waldemar Street, East Boston, in late February of this year in response to a domestic violence incident involving a 20-year-old woman.
"The victim alleged the suspect had assaulted her. The suspect was placed under arrest," he said.
That woman, who was from Brooklyn where Parvaiz grew up, was neither Stephen nor Noorani, said Jake Wark, a spokesman for the Suffolk County district attorney in Boston.
After Parvaiz's arrest on the domestic-violence rap, the alleged victim said that she didn't want to take part in the prosecution, but the DA sent her a summons anyway, Wark said.
"She did not appear at the trial date" on May 1, Wark said, so the case was dismissed.
The Boston incident was triggered by Parvaiz accusing the 20-year-old of being unfaithful to him, authorities said.
Parvaiz, who ran a construction business, Riyaan Developers, which is listed as operating in his East Boston home and in Brooklyn, where his family lives, had told relatives that he was a graduate student at Harvard University. But a Harvard spokesman said the university has not found a record of his enrollment.