A Washington man is accused of strangling his ex-wife and setting her body on fire, in what the woman’s friends' suspect may have been an "honor killing."
Yasir Darraji, 30, is facing murder charges in the suspicious death of his ex-wife, Ibtihal Darraji, who was found in a burning car in Spokane on Thursday night, according to KHQ-TV.
As firefighters began extinguishing a blazing vehicle found in a parking lot in Spokane’s City Park neighborhood late last week, they discovered Ibtihal Darraji’s body in the wreckage, a police spokesperson told Oxygen.com. The 29-year-old woman’s remains were so badly charred, detectives weren’t immediately able to identify her. She had allegedly been choked and drenched in some type of fire accelerant, investigators said.
Friends of the dead woman, however, told police about the former couple’s contentious relationship and bitter divorce, claiming that Darraji was a control freak who was long-enraged by his wife’s perceived promiscuous Western lifestyle and had previously threatened to kill her.
Prior to her death, Ibtihal allegedly told co-workers she feared for her life, KHQ-TV reported. One witness told authorities that Yasir was furious his former spouse was dating and “going to night clubs.” He allegedly demanded she return to their native Iraq — or he would murder her, friends said.
"He tried before to kill her," her friend allegedly told investigators. “He told her family what she did here. In our culture, what she was doing was not allowed. Where we are from, we are not supposed to do that. She did a lot of stuff you are not supposed to do. That's why they divorced.”
The unnamed individual described Yasir as “very jealous” and claimed he refused to let his former wife forge a new life. They alluded their friend’s death may have been an honor killing.
“He doesn't want anyone around her,” the witness said. “He didn't want anyone to help her, stay with her, marry her or date her. He was so mad. In our culture, this is called an 'honor killing.'”
Police also interviewed Darraji’s ex-girlfriend, who claimed he had assaulted and strangled her in the past.
An ex-girlfriend of Darraji's also told police he “always kept a 2 gallon can of gas on his back porch,” PEOPLE.com reported.
Yasir’s friends, who were alarmed to learn their friend had been taken into police custody, reportedly had plans to play soccer with them the day his ex-wife was killed, KHQ-TV reported. One acquaintance described the accused killer as a “good dad” who loved his wife in kids, but admitted his ex-wife’s lifestyle had frequently irritated him.
The couple, law enforcement said, also shared custody of a son. The night Ibtihal was killed, she was scheduled to pick her child up.
Darraji made his first court appearance before a Spokane County judge on Monday. Friends of the man reportedly began screaming as the proceedings concluded, KHQ-TV reported. Some were ejected from the courtroom by security, the local television station said.
Spokane police declined to further comment on the case on Wednesday.
Darraji’s bond has been set at $1 million, according to court records.
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