A 30-year-old Iraqi refugee with a new bride and a new home was slain in 2001 in the city where he came to begin a new life. Ali Saleh Al-Saidi's body was found in June 2001 in Salt Creek, east of the North 70th Street bridge near the Abbott Sports Complex. Then-Police Chief Tom Casady said Al-Saidi suffered "significant traumatic injuries."
Friends and family members said that Al-Saidi moved to Lincoln from Dallas a few months earlier. He had lived five years in Texas and was in a Saudi Arabian refugee camp before his arrival in the United States.
Casady called Al-Saidi a "Gulf War era" refugee and said he had recently married an 18-year-old Lincoln resident and fellow Iraqi exile.
Al-Saidi wed Azher Alghazawi on June 16. She spoke about the husband and friend she lost. "He's a good man," she said. "I love him very much." A welder by trade, Al-Saidi also loved to fix cars. He enjoyed making people laugh with funny faces.
Azher said her husband left their South 18th Street apartment to find an apartment key around 10:45 p.m. the day before his body was found. It was the last time she saw him alive. Just hours earlier, said Saleh Al-Daraji, a longtime friend of Al-Saidi's, he had helped Al-Saidi move some belongings from his old D Street apartment.
Authorities did not know whether the slaying took place near Salt Creek or whether the body was moved. Police found Al-Saidi's 1991 Chevrolet Caprice parked beside a curb at the corner of 21st and Dudley streets, then-Capt. Allen Soukup said.
In September 2001, a Lincoln couple who had been earlier interviewed by police about the slaying were arrested while trying to flee the country, authorities said.
Rabeha Kadhim Zaher Al-Atbi and her husband, Asaad Al-Asady, tried to board a flight to Syria from O'Hare International Airport, Lincoln Police Investigator Kathy Phillips said. "I'm not going to label them suspects," Lincoln Police Capt. Gary Engel said.
According to the affidavit signed by Phillips seeking the arrest of Al-Atbi as an accessory to a felony, she lied to police during a July 5 interview about Al-Saidi's whereabouts on the night of his slaying and about having had an affair with him. She later admitted to police she had had an affair with Al-Saidi, according to the affidavit.
The arrest affidavit goes on to describe how interviews with Iraqis in Lincoln have led police to believe Al-Saidi's death was a "crime of honor" and that Al-Saidi was killed for having brought shame or dishonor to his or another Iraqi family.