Iraqi Hate Crime Murder Probe Raises Questions About Daughter, Husband

Court documents show murdered Iraqi mother's strained family relationships.

ByABC News
April 5, 2012, 11:40 AM

April 5, 2012— -- Police investigating the murder of an Iraqi mother in southern California, initially thought to be a hate crime, have filed papers with a court that suggest the mother had a difficult relationship with her daughter and her husband.

The beating death last month of Shaima Alawadi, 32, of El Cajon, shook the Iraqi-American community when her family reported that a note was found next to Alawadi's body, reportedly saying "go back to your own country, you terrorist."

Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter, Fatima, told police that a similar note had been found a week prior to the murder, but the mother thought of it as a joke and threw it away. Court documents now show that the note was a copy of an original, and the earlier note has never been seen.

The family, including Fatima and Alawadi's husband, are now in Iraq, where they went for Alawadi's burial.

According to court documents obtained by ABC News affiliate KGTV, the daughter received a text message while she was being interviewed by investigators that read "The detective will find out tell them cnt (can't) talk."

Fatima, who was reportedly the only one home with her mother when the attack happened, had a troubled relationship with her mother, the documents show. In November, police had contacted Alawadi after finding Fatima having sex with a 21-year-old man in a parked car. Alawadi had picked her daughter up from the scene, but Fatima then jumped out of her mother's car going 35 mph, the documents state.

Fatima was also distraught over her pending arranged marriage to a cousin, according to the documents.

The investigation into Alawadi's death revealed that a neighbor reported seeing a dark-skinned teenager or 20-something man running away from Alawadi's house around the time of her death, carrying a donut-shaped cardboard box. Police searched the home of the man Fatima was found having sex with months earlier, and took items from his home as part of the investigation, according to the U-T San Diego newspaper.

Alawadi was also planning to divorce her husband, according to a search warrant in the case. Divorce papers were found in Alawadi's car, and a relative told police Alawadi was planning to divorce husband Kassim Alhimidi and move to join her mother and siblings in Texas.

In January, Alawadi had contacted the El Cajon police department to report her daughter Fatima missing, but cancelled the report two hours later after locating her daughter, according to U-T San Diego.

Fatima was the most outspoken member of the family in the wake of Alawadi's death, telling police and reporters that she found her mother bloodied and with head wounds around 11:15 a.m. on March 21. Fatima told police she had been upstairs, and heard her mother squeal before hearing glass break 10 seconds later. When she discovered her mother was wounded, she called 911.

"You're an animal, you're not even an animal," Fatima yelled into a news camera shortly after her mother's beating, addressing her mother's killer. "You took my mother away from me, you took my best friend away from me. Why? Why did you do it, that's all I want to know. Answer me that."

Alawadi's husband had taken the couple's other children to school earlier that morning, according to police, although the U-T San Diego reported Wednesday that that his whereabouts had not yet been confirmed.

The autopsy of Alawadi's body showed that the beating was "extremely violent" and included at least six hits to the head, with at least four skull fractures, according to the newspaper report. Autopsy records noted that the injuries may have been caused by an object similar to a tire iron.

Though the police said they would look into the possibility of whether the murder was a hate crime, they quickly assured the Iraqi community in El Cajon that the killing was seemingly an isolated incident and that no residents had any reason to believe they were in danger.

The family traveled to Baghdad, Iraq, where Alwadi's father is a Shia cleric, last week. Phone calls to the El Cajon police department about the family's plans to return to the U.S. were not immediately returned.