crimesider

Shaima Alawadi, Iraqi woman killed in her Calif. home, was planning divorce: documents

Shaima Alawadi KMFB

Shaima Alawadi
KMFB
(CBS) EL CAJON, Calif. - The case of an Iraqi-American woman found beaten inside her Southern California home last month was originally reported as a possible hate crime, but according to newly released court documents, investigators are looking at the woman's family life as they investigate her murder.

Shaima Alawadi, 32, was discovered on March 21 in the kitchen of her home by her teenage daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, who called 911. She had been brutally beaten and died at the hospital three days later.

Police found a handwritten note at the scene reading "Go back to your country, you terrorist," according to CBS affiliate KMFB, and Fatima told CBS Los Angeles that it wasn't the first time they'd received a threatening note.

"A week ago they left a letter saying, 'This is our country, not yours, you terrorist,", said Fatima Alhimidi, 17. "My mom ignored that, thinking [it was] just kids playing around, pranking."

But a search warrant affidavit mistakenly released to the San Diego Union-Tribune on Wednesday indicates that turmoil inside Alawadi's family has raised police suspicions. Specifically, a family member told detectives that Alawadi was planning to leave her husband and move to Texas at the time of her death.

Police found partially filled out divorce papers in her Ford Explorer and as of March 27, when the search warrant was requested, authorities had not been able to determine the whereabouts of her husband, Kassim Alhimidi, at the time of her death.

In addition, according to the affidavit, Fatima Alhimidi allegedly jumped out of a moving vehicle driven by her mother after being caught in a car with a 21-year-old man in November 2011. She was admitted to the hospital, and told personnel there that she was being forced to marry a cousin. But when police showed up to interview her, she refused to speak to them.

Less than four hours after finding her mother in the kitchen, Alhimidi sent a text message to an as-yet unidentified person saying "The detective will find out tell them cnt talk," according to the affidavit. Police received a warrant to search her phone, as well as other electronic devices in the home.

Police also believe the note left near Alawadi's body was a copy, and are looking for the original.

The search warrant affidavit, signed by a superior court judge on March 27, asks permission for officers to search the Alawadi home and Shaima and Kassim's cars for evidence including notes, paper stock, electronic and data storage devices, clothing, jewelry and weapons, "specifically items that are similar to a tire iron."

The affidavit states that Alawadi received at least six blows to the head and suffered four skull fractures with a weapon "similar to a tire iron."

Alawadi's husband, daughter and son traveled to Iraq this week to bury her.

  • Julia Dahl

    Julia Dahl writes about crime and justice for CBSNews.com

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