Two and a half years after the bodies of four women were pulled from a car that had plunged into the Rideau Canal at Kingston Mills, Ontario, their murderers have been found guilty. Mohammad Shafia, 58, his wife Tooba Yahya, 42, and their son Hamed, 21, will spend the rest of their lives in prison.
The drama began June 30, 2009, when a black Nissan Sentra was discovered near the Kingston Mill Locks. Inside were the bodies of three daughters of Mohammad Shafia and Tooba Yahya: Zainab, 19, Sahar, 17, and Geeti, 13. Their aunt (Mohammad’s first wife), Rona Amir Mohammad, 50, was found with them.
Mohammad Shafia and his wife reported their daughters missing. When the bodies were retrieved, the pair made a show of grief, but on July 22nd police arrested them and their son as they were heading for Montreal’s international airport. A tip from one of the girls’ relatives, along with evidence the deaths were suspicious, prompted Kingston police to arrest the trio before they could flee the country.
Abuse Escalated As Girls Became Westernized
The Shafia family was originally from Afghanistan. When Mohammad Shafia’s first wife, Rona Amir, proved unable to bear children, he took a second wife. Tooba Yahya bore him seven children. Though Amir requested a divorce, Shafia refused.
When the family moved to Canada after a decade in Dubai, they claimed Amir was a domestic servant so they could bring her with them. As the older girls adapted to western culture, their father became increasingly abusive. Amir and the girls lived in fear for their lives.
Finally, Zainab secretly married her boyfriend to escape the family. The marriage was annulled after one day, and Zainab was returned to the family home. For Mohammad and his wife and son, Zainab’s defiance was unforgivable.
Photo 1: Zainab Shafia and boyfriend Ammar from trial documents; Photo 2: Zainab Shafia, from trial documents; Photo 3: Sahar Shafia, media handout
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