FORT WORTH, Texas (CBSDFW.COM) - A tip from a maintenance worker led to the arrest of capital murder suspect Yaser Said, who was on the run since the slayings of his teenage daughters in 2008.
Two relatives of Said were also arrested and charged with helping him evade capture for more than 12 years.
Islam Yaser-Abdel Said, Yaser's 32-year-old son, and Yassein Said, Yaser's 59-year-old brother, were arrested Wednesday in Euless by the FBI's Dallas Violent Crimes Task Force and charged via criminal complaint with concealing a person from arrest. Both made their initial appearances before U.S. Magistrate Judge Hal R. Ray in Fort Worth Friday afternoon.
"For years, Islam and Yassein Said — Sarah and Amina's own brother and uncle – allegedly harbored the girls' killer," said U.S. Attorney Erin Nealy Cox. "In concealing Yaser Said from arrest, not only did these men waste countless law enforcement hours in the hunt for a brutal fugitive, they also delayed justice for Sarah and Amina. Thankfully, their day of reckoning has finally arrived. We are hopeful all three arrests will bring a measure of comfort to the girls' mother, relatives, and friends."
Yaser Said, 63, was a fugitive from justice since New Year's Day 2008, when he allegedly murdered his teenage daughters, Amina and Sarah. According to law enforcement, Yaser drove them to a location in Irving and shot them to death inside his taxicab, abandoning their bodies inside the vehicle. The following day, he was charged by the state with two counts of capital murder. In Dec. 2014, Yaser was placed on the FBI's "Ten Most Wanted" list, where he remained until his capture this week.
"The defendants provided aid and comfort to an individual who is accused of murdering his own daughters," said FBI Dallas Special Agent in Charge of the Dallas Field Division Matthew DeSarno. "Harboring a dangerous fugitive is unacceptable. The FBI and our law enforcement partners will pursue anyone who helps a criminal evade capture."
According to the criminal complaint against Islam and Yassein, nine years after the murder, on Aug. 14, 2017, investigators caught a break: A maintenance worker at the Copper Canyon Apartment complex in Bedford spotted Yaser inside a unit leased to his son, Islam.
Dispatched to repair a water leak, the maintenance worker knocked on the apartment door, but when no one answered, he used a key to unlock it. To his surprise, he found the interior deadbolt locked, indicating someone was inside the apartment. He knocked again, announcing himself as a maintenance worker. A tall, middle-aged Middle Eastern man opened the door and permitted him to make the repairs.
The maintenance worker later reported the incident to his apartment manager, who was aware of Islam's relationship to a fugitive. The maintenance worker confirmed to his boss that the photo on Yaser Said's wanted poster matched the man he'd seen in the apartment, and the pair immediately contacted the FBI. That same day, FBI Dallas dispatched a Violent Crimes Task Force agent to interview the maintenance worker. The agent showed him photos of Yaser's brothers, along with Yaser himself. The maintenance worker pinpointed Yaser as the man he'd seen in the apartment.
Later that evening, the same agent attempted to interview Islam, asking him for permission to search the apartment. Islam, upset, allegedly refused to cooperate. He then called placed a call, saying, "we have a problem." AT&T records indicate Islam was in contact with his uncles.
At 1 a.m. the following morning, the FBI Dallas SWAT team executed a search warrant on Islam's apartment. Finding the front door locked, they were forced to breach the door. They did not discover anyone inside, but observed the sliding glass patio door open. Underneath the patio, they noticed a bush with broken branches, suggesting someone had jumped off the patio and landed on the bush. Next to the flattened bush, they found a pair of eyeglasses, which they collected as evidence.
Agents also collected several pieces of evidence from inside the apartment, including several cigarette butts and a toothbrush inside a luggage bag in a closet. The FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia cross-referenced DNA found on these items with DNA collected from Amina and Sarah. Analyists determined a 1 in 5.3 quintillion probably that the DNA found on the cigarette butts, eyeglasses, and toothbrush came from Amina and Sarah's biological father: Yaser Said.
Twelve days after the raid on the apartment, on August 26, 2017, Customs and Border Patrol located Islam more than 1,000 miles away, inside a car selected for secondary screening at the U.S. Canada border. The driver of the car, Hany Medhat, told CBP agents that he and Islam had decided to take a "crazy road trip;" however, a search of his phone revealed he'd told his employer he had a "family emergency."
Three years later, on Aug. 17, 2020, FBI agents began 24-hour surveillance of a home in Justin purchased in the name of Dalal Said, Yassein's daughter. They watched Islam and Yassein allegedly drive up to the home, deliver grocery bags inside, and carry trash bags back to their car.
Two days later, at 11:51 p.m. on Aug. 19, after Yassein and Islam had departed the residence, agents observed what appeared to be a shadow of a person walk across the interior of the residence in front of window twice.
On Aug. 25, agents once again observed Islam and Yassein exit the home with two bags of trash:
The agents followed the pair to a shopping center in Southlake 19 miles from the house. They watched as Islam exited the vehicle, and Yassein pulled around to the side of the shopping center. Once the vehicle had pulled out of the parking lot, agents began to dig through the garbage cans on the side of the shopping center.
Inside the garbage cans, they located two bags matching the bags they'd seen the men carrying out to the car. They seized the bags and transported them back to the FBI Field Office, where they found numerous cigarette butts and other garbage.
The following day, agents executed a search warrant on the home, where they arrested Yaser Said. They arrested Yassein and Islam at a separate location in Euless.
If convicted, Yassein and Islam face up to five years in federal prison. Yaser, indicted by the state on capital murder charges, faces the death penalty.
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