Murder’s technically a state offense, meaning we didn’t have jurisdiction, but there were elements involved that made it a possible hate crime. Hate crimes fell under federal statute, which would give us jurisdiction.
Forensics came back with a ton of evidence. Tariq’s skin cells were found under her finger nails. Fatima had fought back. A couple strands of hair containing maternal DNA were found on her clothing and in the trunk. Her father’s fingerprints had been on the passport and on the trunk’s lock.
We had all three of them. Warrants were sworn out. We were good to go.
Will and I were to accompany Detective Ahmed Sidran to the Zaidis house for the arrest. Sidran was a local, a good detective with an excellent reputation. Will knew him well. They grew up together. I knew I liked him, and I don’t like many people.
It was a grey and rainy kind of day. I liked that. I don’t think I could have handled it if it had been sunny. This was not a day for sun.
Sidran was waiting for us a few houses down, so as not to give the Zaidis any reason to run. “Agents,” he greeted, his face grim. “I can’t even tell you how bad this is… an honor killing. An honor killing in my town… I can’t. I just can’t.”
Will said something, but I didn’t hear. I was too focused on the house. That’s where they lived. They murdered that beautiful girl, then they moved to this shiny house, in this shiny neighborhood and proceeded to forget all about her. I took a deep breath. Justice. Not revenge. Justice. Not revenge.
“You okay, Sam?” Will asked. “You seem… tense.”
I shrugged. “I’m good. I mean, these people killed, then buried, their daughter under my patio, but other than that, I’m good.”
Will narrowed his eyes. “Maybe you should wait this one out.”
“Nah. I’m fine.” I stared at him. “Really.”
“Alright.” Will sighed. “Don’t do anything stupid.”
I saluted. “Yes, sir, boss, sir.”
“Wise ass.” He rolled his eyes, and together we marched up to the house.
“Ready?” Sidran asked. We nodded, and he rang the doorbell.
A young man in traditional Pakistani clothing opened the door. Tariq. I recognized him. He ignored Will and me, and instead addressed Sidran. “Yes? What do you want?”
I flashed my badge in his face and pushed him aside. “I’m Agent Samantha Donnelly, and that’s Agent Wilhelmina Bradford. FBI. I think you know Detective Sidran, right?” I felt Will’s eyes on me. Sidran was supposed to take point. “You’re Tariq, right?”
Tariq glared at me. “Cover your head. We are an observant house.”
“This isn’t a social call, Mr. Zaidi,” I replied. “When you look at me, don’t see this – ” I gestured at my chest “- see my badge and the authority it grants me.”
His eyes narrowed, but Sidran stepped between us. “Tariq, we need to ask you about Fatima.”
“Fatima?” He blinked, surprised. “She’s in Pakistan.”
“Is she?” I stepped around them and into the living room. The Zaidis were entertaining. On one side of the living room sat the man I recognized as Fatima’s father, Ibrahaim. Next to him sat her mother, Amira. Ibrahaim was dressed like Tariq, while Amira was covered in a long dress and hair covering.
Sitting on the other side of the room was a younger couple, wearing Western clothes. The man looked to be somewhere between the father and Tariq in age. The woman wore western clothes. Her hair wasn’t covered. Guess it didn’t matter about her hair.
Ibrahaim and Amira shot daggers at us, but the other couple looked merely curious. “Are you ICE?” the younger man asked. “If you are, I assure you, my uncle and his family are all perfectly legal.”
“Not ICE.” I flashed my badge. “We’re here about Fatima.” I fixed my gaze on Amira. “Where is she?”
Before she could answer, Ibrahaim said, “She’s in Pakistan. She’s married to a fine man there. Now leave.”
“Really?” I asked, pulling Fatima’s passport out and holding it up. “Because we found this. Can you explain how Fatima left this country and arrived in Pakistan without her passport?”
The old man focused on Sidran, his face a chiseled mask of contempt. “Detective. Remove this sinful woman from my presence.”
“Answer the question,” I said. “How did Fatima travel without proper documents?”
“Whore,” he spat. “Get out.”
“Uncle, let’s not be rude to the federal agents.” The younger man stood up, wringing his hands, a nervous smile on his face. “Please, accept my apology. My uncle is still working out the differences between his new country and his homeland. I assure you, he is… we are all willing to answer any questions you have about Fatima.”
“And you are?” Will asked.
“I am Omar Zaidi, and this is my wife, Sasha,” he replied. “Ibrahaim is my uncle. May I ask why you have Fatima’s passport? I thought she had returned to Pakistan.” He turned to his uncle. “Isn’t that right? She’s in Pakistan.”
Ibrahaim frown and looked down at the carpet. “Yes. That’s correct. She’s in Pakistan.”
“Why do you ask these questions?” Amira cried. “She needed to go back. She was a bad girl.”
Will turned to the mother. “What do you mean, she was a bad girl?”
Amira pouted and crossed her arms. “All that running around with a boy behind our backs… it was embarrassing. She was embarrassing. She brought shame to our family.”
I raised an eyebrow. “Shame for dating a nice boy like Ezekiel?”
Ibrahaim looked up, and Amira’s mouth dropped open. Tariq stepped forward, fists clenched. “How do you know that name?” Tariq asked.
“Tariq,” Omar the cousin snapped. “Listen, agents, I know these things may not make sense, but it’s our custom. I am uncertain how Fatima could have traveled without her passport, but I’m certain there’s a reasonable explanation.” He stood up. “If you need further information, please contact our attorney.”
“We have further information.” I pulled out the warrants. “Ibrahaim, Amira, and Tariq Zaidi, the body of Fatima Zaidi was found buried in the yard of your previous residence. This is a warrant for your arrests. All of your are under arrest for the murder of Fatima Zaidi.”
“Uncle Ibrahaim, you killed her?” Omar turned to the old man. “Is this true?”
Sidran pulled out his cuffs and walked over to Tariq. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you.”
“No!” Amira threw back her head and made this shrill kind of sound. “She was bad! She was bad! She was dirty and bad! She would shame us all! We had no choice!”
Omar’s wife stood up, her face pale, one eye twitching. “”You killed her? You killed her? What kind of mother are you?!” The younger man’s wife stood up, her face pale, one eye twitching. “She was not bad! She was beautiful and kind, and all you ever did was torment her! You are a horrible woman. A horrible mother!” She pointed at her, her hand shaking. “I curse you, Amira Zaidi. I curse you for what you did to that child!” She spit at her. “I curse you!”
Amira leaped out of her chair, but Will grabbed her. “None of that, old lady. You might break a hip.”
Sidran had Tariq; Will had Amira. That left Ibrahaim. I headed for him, hand cuffs ready.
“Do not touch me, whore!” He took a swing at me, which I easily blocked. I twisted his arm and forced him on the ground.
“Ibrahaim. That’s assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Let’s tack that on to the murder charge.” I cuffed him and hauled him to his feet. “Ibrahaim Zaidi, you’re under arrest for the murder of Fatima Zaidi. You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney.”
As I shoved him out the door and to the squad car, the press was already here. “Is it true you killed your sister because she was dating a Christian?” A reporter stuck a microphone in Tariq’s face. “Did you kill your sister, Mr. Zaidi?”
A crack of lightening split the sky. Thunder boomed.
We were in for a storm.
10 thoughts on “We Are All Stardust: Part 7”
Wonderful story, Liz, great job!
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Thanks, Denny! But it’s not done yet…
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Oops, kinda blew my wad a little early there…
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