Inside the FBI’s Decades-Long Hunt To Find ‘Most Wanted’ Man Yaser Said, Accused of ‘Honor Killing’ Daughters

It didn’t take long for the authorities to get suspicious Yaser said participated in the murder of two of them teenage girlbullet-riddled bodies were found inside an orange Jet Taxi cab on New Year’s Day 2008.

Said, who was last seen with 17-year-old Sarah and 18-year-old Amina, was nowhere near the cab when it was found outside a Dallas-area hotel — despite a 911 call made by a of the girls insisted he “shot” them. When officials finally arrived at Said’s home, authorities were surprised to learn that the father of three had disappeared into thin air. The next day, Said was charged with two counts of murder, which prosecutors described as “honor murder”.

But former investigators and witnesses who testified on behalf of prosecutors during Said’s trial at the Dallas Courthouse detailed how a 12-year manhunt lasted before the suspect actually committed the crime. the arrest. Meanwhile, Said allegedly took extreme measures to evade the police while on the FBI’s Most Wanted List, including enlisting the help of his son and brother and dancing. out of the apartment courtyard after being spotted by a maintenance worker.

He was eventually found in 2020 hiding in a home in Justin, Texas, about 40 minutes from the gruesome crime scene. Authorities said the home had a hidden room behind the garage that had been converted to include a crib.

“We don’t know where he is,” former Irving detective Joe Hennig told jurors on Friday, saying authorities had found new records showing he had left the country. “We don’t know where he was in those 12 years.”

Said, 64, has pleaded not guilty to murder for a crime his lawyers insist was pinned only on him because he is Muslim. However, prosecutors allege that Said was “obsessed with possession and control” and murdered his daughters after learning the teenagers had boyfriends and tried to run away.

During his final three days in court, prosecutors and witnesses detailed the power, control and fears he wielded, including choosing where his family would live and where he would live. Who will you communicate with?

“He controls what they do, who they talk to, who they can be friends with, if they are — and who they can date. And he controls everything in his family,” prosecutor Lauren Black said in opening statements Tuesday.

In the weeks leading up to the murder, Said is said to have become “angrier” after feeling he had lost this power over his wife and daughters, who had dated other men. The man is non-Muslim and plans to go to college. However, it wasn’t until December 2007, when prosecutors accused Said of holding a gun to Amina’s head and threatening to kill her, that the teenagers and their mother began hatching plans to elope just before Christmas.

Away from the patio door and the bushes on the ground, investigators believe someone climbed ‘over the balcony.’

Said’s ex-wife, Patricia Owens, told jurors Friday that on Christmas Day she and her daughters fled to Oklahoma. The next day, however, Said reports them missing to the Lewisville Police Department – prompting Amina and Sarah to eventually return to the Dallas area on New Year’s Eve. Authorities did not disclose the whereabouts of the teenager’s brother, Islam Said, at the time.

Owens testified that she was “at home” as her husband drove around her daughters for food and talk. Authorities believe the daughters were shot before 7:30 p.m. near the Omni Hotel. Around that time, Sarah Said called 911 twice, insisting she was “going to die” after her father shot her.

“She was asking for help and she named her killer, her father, Yaser Said,” Black said of Sarah’s 911 call that was broadcast to jurors this week.

Authorities later learned that the taxi the girls found wasn’t actually Said’s rental car – but a car he had borrowed from a fellow driver, Jihad Tafal. Tafal told jurors on Thursday that he had to borrow his car a few days before Christmas, citing his contempt for the owner of the car he usually rents. Former Irving police detective John Schingle told jurors that while the orange cab usually had a GPS, it was notable that it was turned off that New Year’s Eve.

“There were almost 24 hours where we didn’t know where that taxi went,” Schingle added.

Randall Johnson, who led Irving police investigating the case until mid-2008, testified in court on Thursday that Owens provided authorities with a cartridge of ammunition when they arrived at Said’s home after the murder. Among the bullets, he said, were 9mm bullets that fit into cartridges taken from the taxi.

Hennig also emphasized to jurors on Friday that there were no fingerprints inside the vehicle, but they quickly learned that Said was in the vehicle before the murder. Investigators said Said was previously known to have carried a weapon while driving his taxi.

Hours later, authorities received a warrant to search the apartment – but found only an empty apartment and a sliding glass door open to the patio.

During the interrogation, Said’s defense lawyers argued that the police intentionally ignored the girl’s boyfriend as a suspect because it did not match their “narrative” for which their father was responsible. . Said’s lawyer also made the point that neither boyfriend was tested for gun residue.

“We initially looked at the two boyfriends and then we focused on the defendant,” Johnson said.

But all the former investigators admit that the case quickly turns from a murder investigation into an intense manhunt. Authorities now know that during that time Said enlisted the help of his son, Islam, and his brother, Yassein, to stay in hiding.

In 2014, authorities added Said to the FBI’s 10 most wanted fugitives list. Three years later, authorities nearly caught Said in an apartment building in North Texas after a maintenance worker spotted him. Jorge Camacho, who worked for Canyon Apartments in Bedford in 2017, testified in Spanish through an interpreter that he received a request to fix a leak inside one of the buildings. apartment.

When he knocked on the door and tried to open the door of the unit rented by Islam Said, the latch was still firmly attached to the door.

Pushing the door as hard as he could, Camacho said he yelled inside the apartment that it was an “emergency” and let him inside. Finally, he said Said opened the door.

“He has a beard and wears a hat. He had his face down,” Camacho said, adding that he finally saw his face before leaving.

Camacho says that while returning the keys, he met his manager, who gave him the FBI’s most wanted poster — and asked if he had seen Said. The maintenance worker confirmed that he had just seen Said moments earlier inside the apartment.

The apartment manager quickly called the FBI, who arrived at the building and interviewed Camacho. While speaking with investigators, Camacho said he looked up at the apartment and saw “curtains open and closed.” Eventually, the police tried to interview Islam Said at the complex, but he refused to let them inside to search the apartment.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Said’s son, he then called one of his uncles and said, “We have a big problem.” (Said’s Son and his brother were sentenced to 10 years in prison for helping him hide.

Hours later, authorities received a warrant to search the apartment – but found only an empty apartment and a sliding glass door open to the patio. Detective David Tull of the Irving Police Department testified Friday that when authorities entered the building, they found papers belonging to Said’s brother and son – and fingerprinted them. A toothbrush and luggage were also found.

Tull added that the way the patio doors and bushes on the ground were left, investigators believe someone had climbed “over the balcony.”

Less than two weeks after searching the apartment, on August 26, 2017, US Customs and Border Patrol discovered Islam Said and another individual attempting to cross the border into Canada. The criminal complaint against Islam says the driver said the couple were taking a “crazy road trip.” It was not immediately known whether Islam and the other individual were detained or crossed the border.

It took another three years for authorities to catch up with Said again, this time in Justin, Texas. Agent Daniel Gimenez says investigators have begun round-the-clock surveillance of the home purchased in the name of Yassein’s daughter.

“This is a family home in a rural area in Justin with an attached garage,” said Gimenez. “It’s an isolated neighborhood.”

Gimenez testified that Islam and Yassein were seen regularly driving home with bags of groceries and would eventually leave a few hours later with “trash bags” they played with in their cars. “We want to know where the trash bags are going,” the agent added.

On August 17, 2020, Said’s brother and son left the home, and agents saw what looked like a “shadow” of another person.

Days later, FBI agents received a search warrant and entered the home. Shortly after authorities announced their presence at Justin’s home, Gimenez said Said “gave himself up and lay face down on the ground.”

The task force said “was handcuffed and safely detained without incident”. After his arrest, investigators entered the home and found a “garage door converted from a regular garage door to a French door.” On the back wall, there is a “space built to include a room” of plywood.

“Inside the room was a cot and a rug,” he added.

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