July 7, 2008— -- A Georgia father of Pakistani descent allegedly strangled his 25-year-old daughter because she wanted to get out of an arranged marriage to a man she had not seen in months, according to police in Clayton County, Ga.
Chaudhry Rashid, 56, was scheduled to be arraigned today on a murder charge. Rashid was arrested early Sunday morning at his family's house after police responded to a domestic disturbance call and found his daughter, Sandeela Kanwal, dead in an upstairs bedroom.
The Clayton County Medical Examiner confirmed that Kanwal died of strangulation. Police recovered an iron by the young woman's bedroom doorway and a necklace on a family room table that may have been used in the killing, according to a Clayton County police report.
Authorities allege that Rashid killed his daughter because he feared that her resistance to a recently arranged marriage would disgrace the Pakistani-American family.
"She was very unhappy with the marriage, had not seen the husband in three months and was seeking a divorce," Timothy Owens, a spokesman for the Clayton County Police Department, told ABC News. "The father felt like the he had to uphold his family's honor."
Gina Rashid, identified as Chaudhry's 49-year-old wife and Kanwal's mother, called 911 at 1:59 a.m. Sunday after she heard screaming and fled the house. She told authorities that her daughter may have been dead in an upstairs bedroom, according to the Clayton County police report.
When officers responded to the quiet neighborhood in Jonesboro, they were met in the driveway of the Georgia house by two males, one of whom told police their father had said their sister was dead. Their father was upset, uncharacteristically smoking cigarettes, according to the police report. The officer, Richard Locates, called for additional police units and approached Chaudhry Rashid, who was sitting on the driveway behind a car.
"I asked him if he spoke any English and he indicated a little bit," Locates wrote in his report. "I asked him what happened and he said, 'My daughter is dead.'"
The murder suspect did not respond when asked how the young woman died, Locates reported, instead dropping his eyes to the ground.
An officer who arrived at the scene sat with Rashid as police entered the house and cleared the downstairs rooms, according to police. Upstairs, Locates turned a corner and saw Kanwal's body from the waist down in a bedroom at the end of the hall. Her bare feet and hands were gray and cold and she had blood coming from her left nostril, according to the police report. Locates quickly determined that Kanwal, an employee at a local Wal-Mart, was dead.
Gina Rashid then told authorities that their daughter had recently entered an arranged marriage in the family's native Pakistan to a man who now lives in Chicago. Sandeela Kanwal was unhappy with the arrangement and wanted out of the marriage, according to police.
"The was causing a great deal of friction between the victim and her father," Locates wrote in his report, adding that the father and daughter had not spoken in two months.
Gina Rashid said she was in bed before her daughter's death when she asked her husband to turn on a fan and open some windows. She fell back asleep and later awoke to screaming in the house that prompted her to leave the house and call 911, she told police.
It is unclear whether Chaudhry Rashid, who police say owns a local pizza parlor, has hired an attorney. As of this afternoon, no bond had been set in the case and Rashid remains in the Clayton County jail, according to the sheriff's office Web site.
Arranged marriages remain so common in some cultures that the British government created a Forced Marriage Unit to help rescue young British women who have been forced to wed. The British office fields 4,000 calls each year, about two-thirds of which are Pakistani, according to a June report in The Washington Post.
M. Siddique, director of the Pakistani American Community of Atlanta, did not immediately return a phone call from ABC News for comment. Shahid Malik, a member of the organization, told ABC News' Atlanta affiliate WSB-TV that the young woman and father were both suffering from depression.