Killing in Cairo: The unsolved murder of an entire family

WARNING: This article contains crime scene photos that show the blood of the victims.

In the early morning of May 5, 2018, security guards at an upscale residential compound in the east Cairo neighborhood were called to attend to a villa with a dog that had been barking incessantly, tied up outside in the courtyard.

As the two guards approached the house, they almost hurled from the violently foul smell that emanated from the villa. And although neither one of them had ever been near a dead body before, the smell was unmistakable. They immediately retreated and called the police, waiting by the gates of the house as the dog barked on, its throat growing coarse, its breathing growing tired.

The scene of the crime.

Inside the putrid house the police discovered a bloody mess and a mystery that captured the nation’s attention. The Saad family was essentially wiped out including Imad Saad, 56, his wife Wafaa Fawzi, 43 and their three children Mohammed, 22, Nourhan, 20 and Abdelrahman, 18.

Some time on April 30, their neighbors heard gunshots, yelling and more gunshots, yet somehow didn’t think it was worth calling the police over. The gun that was used was found by the father, Imad’s body and is pictured in the second photo below.

Crime scene photo showing blood and bullet holes.
The gun lies on a mat nearby the father’s body (unpictured).

The only certain thing about the whole case was that the murders took place, almost everything else is full of contradictions, conflicts, confusion and outright mysteries.

Imad (center) and his daughter Nourhan and son Abdelrahman

Perhaps the most perplexing aspect of this case was that police first ruled it a murder-suicide. That’s right, they claimed the 56-year-old man who owned a contracting company, shot his wife and children mob execution style, then proceeded to insist on shooting himself in the face, three times!

Family friends who had visited them mere days before their brutal murder, stated that they were all in high spirits. Aside from the fact that it is almost certainly impossible to shoot yourself three times in the head. Olympic-level mental gymnastics by pro-government media outlets such as Al-Arabiya claimed that the first shot only hit his jaw and was therefore not fatal, the second shot hit him in his “face” and was equally not fatal, until finally, with two gaping bullet wounds in his face, the old man managed to land the final, killing shot to his brain. Astounding. Both the reporting and the claim.

Mysterious message

Working with telecommunication providers, the police determined that the family was alive on April 30, with the father last texting people that day until he abruptly stopped at noon, and his phone switched off by 3 or 4 pm.

Further investigation later revealed that the police found a message on the father’s phone that was sent by him to several contacts (whether these contacts were found and followed up with by police is unknown), which cryptically read: “Get ready for some good news on April 30. Everyone will get what they’re owed.” This certainly points to a business deal of some sort going terribly wrong.

Ruling out the world’s unlikeliest suicide, what exactly did happen to this family? While the case is officially unsolved and remains open, there are several theories that attempt to explain the murders on that day, from the outlandish to the mildly plausible.

A fight over land worth 20 billion EGP

The most bizarre claim seems to stem from an ongoing court case involving Imad. Where Imad allegedly forged land deeds as well as other documents in an attempt to claim land originally owned by the estate of a Minister of Defense from the 1920s. This land was apparently worth 20 billion EGP.

Putting aside the dubious and unsubstantiated nature of these claims, it seems that whoever was the other party to the case would immediately become the prime suspect should he miraculously come into possession of papers proving his own claim, otherwise this land would remain in limbo.

Antiquities smuggling

Another possibility, was that Imad was party to an illegal antiquities smuggling deal that went fatally awry. An unnamed source close to the investigation stated with that something of value was removed from the villa, although there was no evidence of anything missing (money, jewelry and other valuables were left in tact). Considering the close link of organized crime to the underground antiquities trade, as well as the professional execution of the murders, this theory has some semblance of believability, although the truth remains unknown, and ultimately, unknowable.

Possible coverup?

It would not be a stretch of the imagination to consider the likelihood of some kind of police involvement, or at least coverup. After all, Egyptian police forces were literally the spark that led to the 2011 revolution, and are notoriously corrupt, brutal and unrepentantly so. Besides, there are several red flags that make absolutely no sense whatsoever, unless the police were purposefully sabotaging their own investigation as a cover up.

For instance, the cameras outside the victim’s villa’s and the neighbor’s security cameras both apparently failed to catch the murders. How miraculously inept! Add to this the incredibly idiotic initial claim by police that this was a suicide, paints a picture of a police force working hard on making this case disappear.

Police barricade at the entrance of the villa.

Despite a team of 100 police officers, who interviewed 43 witnesses and held 14 suspects for 10 days (later clearing and releasing them), there has been no progress on the case whatsoever. Indicating incompetence, tough luck, or willful disinterest.

Other red flags include the compound’s security guards. The victim’s stated that he went over to the villa to check on them a few days after their murder, but was told by the residential compound’s guards that the family had departed and not returned for some time. This led many to believe that they were paid off or otherwise involved in some way, to provide the perpetrators with time to flee. Interestingly, at least one of the suspects held by police was a security guard, but he too was cleared.

Whatever the case, the victims’ family is still demanding the truth, but sadly it seems the possibility of any closure is diminishing by the day.

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