Police solve two-year-old killings case
By Erin Galbally, Minnesota Public Radio
October 10, 2001
The Olmsted County sheriff has identified a pair of decapitated bodies found along a Rochester roadway two years ago as Bangladeshi woman and her young nephew. And while police have a suspect, complications involving U.S.-Bangladesh relations mean the case may never go to trial.
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The headless bodies of Mary Zaman and her nephew Mohammad Taef were found by a road worker, hidden in some bushes on a remote rural Olmstead County road. Each body was stuffed inside a black garbage bag. It was November 1999, an estimated two months after the pair was killed.
Now, following thousands of hours of police work and tens of thousands of dollars, officials say they not only know the victims, but also the likely perpetrator. Flanked by FBI, INS and local officials, Olmsted County sheriff Steve Borchardt says all evidence points to the slain woman's husband, Iqbal Ahmed, who now resides in a remote part of Bangladesh.
"From February 2001 to the present, numerous attempts have been made to induce Ahmed to return to the USA under the pretense of searching for Zaman in NY. All attempts have failed. The USA does not currently have full diplomatic relations or an extradition treaty with Bangladesh. Contacts within the Bangladesh national police indicate that it will be very unlikely at this time that we will have Iqbal Ahmed arrested in Bangladesh," according to Borchardt.
Borchardt says investigators have known the victims identity since July 2000, but kept the information quiet as they tried to locate the killer. According to Borchardt, Mary Zaman, Iqbal Ahmed, and the couple's young son moved to Rochester from New York City after securing employment at a local Indian restaurant. The family lived in Rochester for approximately a year, and at some point Zaman's sister and nephew, who would become the second victim, joined them.
Police say fingerprints that Ahmed submitted with an old New York taxi application match prints found on the plastic bags wrapped round the victims.
And while the couple's son is confirmed alive in Bangladesh, Zaman's sister - the mother of the slain boy - remains missing.
"We believe that it's quite possible that Sofia Tarek is an additional victim. We are hoping that by going public with the case and with as much data as we are today, if she is alive and well, that word will travel across the Bangladeshi community and her whereabouts will become known to us," Borchardt said.
Borchardt praised law enforcement agencies across the country for their help in solving the case. He gave special credit to the FBI, which dispatched an agent to Bangladesh to interview the suspect. While investigators are reluctant to assign motive to the crime, they say it's most likely a case of domestic abuse.
A worldwide warrant has been issued for Iqbal Ahmed, and should he leave his southeast Asian homeland, he'll be subject to arrest, and possible extradition.