Public doubts that the March killing of an Iraqi woman in El Cajon was a hate crime may be borne out in the wake of an arrest in the case.
An Iraqi man whose wife was fatally beaten in their home was behind bars Friday on suspicion of murdering her.
El Cajon police arrested Kassim Irzoqi Alhimidi, 48, on Thursday, according to jail records, but did not announce it until Friday afternoon. He is being held on no bail with arraignment set for 1:30 p.m. Tuesday at El Cajon Superior Court.
Alhimidi's wife, 32-year-old Shaima Alawadi, was found mortally wounded in their Skyview Street on March 21, near a note that read, in part, “Go back to your country, you terrorist.”
She died in a hospital three days later.
According to U-T San Diego, investigators have released no details about their case against Alhimidi, “saying the investigation was still sensitive.”
El Cajon Police Chief Jim Redman was quoted as saying: “After months of hard work, we determined this homicide was the result of domestic violence and not a hate crime.”
Redman also said at a news conference: “There were many aspects of this case that needed to be looked into and cultural aspects that needed to be looked into …. “Sometimes homicide investigations just take time. We were diligent in the investigation and it culminated with an arrest.”
In April, a Patch Poll asked: Will El Cajon police ultimately find the Shaima Alawadi slaying a hate crime?
As of Friday afternoon, only 12 percent of Patch respondents said it was a hate crime. Some 62 percent thought it wasn’t a hate crime, and 25 percent said they were unsure.
The El Cajon Police Department issued this statement Friday afternoon:
I’ve called this press conference to announce an arrest in the homicide investigation of Shaima Al-Awadi who was murdered in March of this year.
I’d like to begin by recognizing some of the organizations that assisted the El Cajon Police Department during this investigation.
- The San Diego Sheriff’s Office Crime Lab
- The San Diego Office of the FBI
- And the San Diego County District Attorney’s Office.
The assistance we received from each of these agencies was instrumental in helping us make an arrest in this case.
I wish to acknowledge the diligence and hard work of those Detectives from the El Cajon Police Department who worked continuously on this investigation that ultimately led to this arrest.
It is important to mention that, even though an arrest has been made, this case will now move on to prosecution and is by no means over. That being said, I will refrain from discussing any information I feel may hamper the prosecution of this case.
On March 21, 2012, Shaima Al-Awadi was discovered unconscious in her home at 564 Skyview. She had suffered severe trauma to her head and was transported to the hospital. Investigators processed the scene and began what was to become a lengthy and extremely thorough investigation.
On March 24th, Shaima Al-Awadi was taken off life support and succumbed to her injuries at which point the case became a homicide investigation.
During the initial stages of this investigation, a note was discovered very close to where the victim was found. Based on the contents of the note we could not rule out at that time the possibility that this might have been a hate crime. As I stated during that time, this was just one of several aspects of this case that we were investigating. I also stated that the initial investigation indicated that this was an isolated incident.
Because this family is Muslim, we recognized the mention of a hate crime would certainly cause concerns in our Muslim community.
Muslim Leaders in our community and nationwide shared our concerns.
We were very fortunate to partner with the San Diego Chapter of CAIR; the Council on American-Islamic Relations…and MPAC; the Muslim Public Affairs Council in helping us reach out to our Muslim community members to address their concerns. The guidance we received from CAIR and MPAC was instrumental in establishing an open dialogue with the Muslim community. We also reached out to the leaders of our two local Mosques who provided a venue for us to address community concerns.
I wish to convey my sincere gratitude to both CAIR and MPAC, as well as our local Muslim leadership for their patience and understanding during this lengthy investigation.
After months of hard work by El Cajon Police Department detectives, we determined that this homicide was the result of domestic violence and not the result of a hate crime.
On Thursday, November 8, El Cajon Police Detectives arrested Kassim Al-Himidi for suspicion of the murder of his wife, Shaima Al-Awadi. Mr. Al-Himidi was booked into San Diego County Jail on charges of 1st Degree Murder.
Our sympathies go out to the victim’s family and friends and I hope that this arrest further eases any concerns within the community.
Again, I wish to thanks all of our partners who helped with this investigation.
I wish to thank the citizens of El Cajon for their patience and their confidence in the Police Department.
—City News Service contributed to this report.