Dr. Tariq Rafay, his wife Sultana and their 20-year old daughter Basma were viciously bludgeoned to death in their Bellevue, Washington home on the evening of July 12, 1994. Atif Rafay, the son of Sultana and Tariq, found them when he returned home around 2am. Atif and his friend Sebastian Burns, both 18-years old, had gone out for dinner, a movie and a late-night snack. They found the horrific scene just after 2am. Sebastian Burns called 911 at 2:01am for help. The two teenagers then ran into the street to wait for the police.
There were reports that the police had a difficult time locating the Rafay house, which was located in an upper middle-class neighborhood. A few minutes after the 911 call, a police cruiser passed the house, unable to find the correct address. The teenagers chased after it, pounding on a window to get it to stop. Upon entering the Rafay’s suburban Seattle home, police were shocked by the horrible, bloody crime scene. Sultana was dead from fatal blows to her head. Basma was critically injured and died later at a hospital, having suffered repeated blows to her head and body. Dr. Rafay’s body was on his bed with his head completely crushed. His bedroom was covered in blood, bone, teeth and tissue from the brutal killing.
Sebastian and Atif had solid alibis which police interpreted as efforts by the teens to avoid detection as the perpetrators of this horrible, violent act. They were cooperative as police put them up in a motel and questioned them over a three-day period, but police found their reactions to the event to be inappropriate and suspicious. In the days, weeks and months following the murders, the Bellevue police tried to put together a case, but discovered that the physical evidence pointed away from supporting that either Sebastian or Atif were involved.
Nine months after the murders, frustrated by the lack of evidence of the guilt of Sebastian or Atif, the Bellevue police enlisted the assistance of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police in an effort to obtain incriminating evidence against the two teenagers. The RCMP decided to initiate an undercover sting operation known in Canada as “Mr. Big,” in an effort to elicit a confession from one or both of them. Evidence from a Mr. Big operation is not admissible in the United States unless it is obtained outside the country. At this point, the teens were living in Canada.
Today, at the quiet end, we discuss the vicious murders of three innocent people and a possible case of the wrongful convictions of two young men. Their confessions, given under a method that is illegal in the United States and has since been declared illegal in Canada, are what convicted them and what keep them in prison today. In Unfortunate Sons: The Convictions of Atif Rafay and Sebastian Burns, we look at the Mr. Big method of obtaining confessions, the other suspects in these murders, and the trials and appeals in the case.
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Malcolm Webster drugged and murdered his first wife and, after getting away with it, he tried to do the same to his second wife. A third fiancé, Simone Banarjee, was saved by detectives when they warned her and showed her evidence of her intended’s lies and crimes. She was stunned to learn that the man she loved was plotting her death as they were planning their honeymoon together.
Webster was an English-born nurse who travelled the world and used drugs to sedate his victims before eliminating evidence with arson and murder. His three best known victims were women who were independently wealthy and fell for his English gentleman persona. Police believe there were many more victims.
He had set ablaze cars, offices, and homes. After gaining access to bank accounts, he embezzled money with forged signatures and fraudulent documents. Even as he spent Simone’s fortune and arranged for her death, he had a string of women he was setting up as future targets. There were many coincidences following Malcolm Webster over the years, too many for police detectives to accept. Though he took everything from the women he victimized, those who survived would say he was gentle. He killed with kindness, putting them into oblivious slumber with drugs before leaving them to fiery deaths.
The Deliberate Widower: Malcolm Webster is our topic at the quiet end today. The outrageous crimes this man inflicted over his lifetime formulate an incredible, intricate story of a con man who would stop at nothing, even murder, to get the things he wanted.
There is no question that Michael Dunn shot and killed 17-year old Jordan Russell Davis. Tommy Stornes, Jordan’s friend who was driving the car Jordan was in, acted quickly, backing his car away as Michael Dunn shot into the vehicle. Jordan’s murder is often referred to as the Loud Music case, because the incident began when Michael Dunn asked the teens to turn down their stereo.
According to Dunn, Jordan threatened to kill him, opening his car door and pointing a shotgun at him. Dunn had a concealed weapon permit. He retrieved his handgun from his glove compartment and fired at Davis. He shot ten times. Then he fled the scene, went to a hotel with his fiancée, and ordered pizza.
Tommy Stornes drove his SUV away to a nearby parking lot. Jordan was gasping for air. He died that night. Dunn was arrested at his home the next day.
The trial of Michael Dunn for murder brought attention to Florida’s Stand Your Ground law as he claimed self-defense. If he could prove that he felt like his life was being threatened, he had no obligation to retreat. Racism was also an issue. Michael Dunn is a white man and Jordan was an African-American teen. Dunn was overheard remarking about “thug music.”
Our discussion today, <em>Trigger Happy: The Killing of Jordan Davis</em>, surrounds the events leading up to and following this shooting and the trial of Michael Dunn, who seemed to know no remorse after he claimed self defense without any evidence of a threat. With the conviction of Michael Dunn, we know that black lives do matter, but are African American teens any safer today because of the court’s decision? Does the Stand Your Ground Law give people a license to kill?
A young woman was found in a ditch and rushed to a hospital in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, in April of 1990. She was the apparent victim of a hit and run. She seemed to be getting better and recovering from her head injury when her husband, a much older man named Clarence Hughes, paid one last visit to her. She died soon after.
Clarence and his then wife Tonya Hughes went by a number of aliases over the years. Clarence was actually a fugitive named Franklin Delano Floyd. It would take years to uncover Tonya’s true identity. Floyd would become a suspect in Tonya’s death and in the disappearance of Tonya’s 6-year old child.
The crimes of Franklin Delano Floyd were numerous and obscene. He was a pedophile, a rapist, a kidnapper, and a murderer. His victims were vulnerable and his abuses were brutal and cruel. Tanya, known also as Sharon Marshall, had first lived as this monster’s child, and then as his wife.
What stands out as a light in this dark story is the perseverance and eternal hope of this young woman. She was an honor student, a loving mother, and a loyal friend, despite being beaten and exploited for most of her life.
Today, in Adopt a Wife: The Victims of Franklin Delano Floyd, we are discussing the lives of his victims: their strength and their pain. By looking into Floyd’s past, we will see his path into darkness as he chose not to overcome the abuses he endured as a child but to pass them on to others. This story is as disturbing as it is tragic, but, if you can work your way through it with us I think you will find yourself impressed with the tenacity of the investigators who finally brought him to justice and the resilience of the human spirit.
Early one Sunday morning, kayakers found the body of a woman floating in the shallow water of a river outside Emporia, Kansas. She was identified as Sandra Bird, the wife of a minister and the mother of three young children. Her station wagon appeared to have run off a gravel country road near a bridge. She had been ejected before it overturned into the river.
Initially, the death of Sandy Bird was ruled an accident. But, over the next two years, residents of the tranquil Midwest town were swept up in a twisted tale of adultery, lust, greed, and murder.
Although they were suspicious, investigators could not prove that First Lutheran Minister Tom Bird and his mistress Lorna Anderson had plotted to kill Tom's wife.
Four months later, Lorna's husband Marty would turn up dead. Lorna stood to collect over $200,000 in life insurance. Her attempt to collect the money the day after Marty's death further raised suspicions. When an ex-boyfriend of Lorna came along and told police Lorna and Tom had tried to hire him to kill Marty, all of the pieces began falling into place. The relationship of Tom Bird with his church secretary would surface as the core motive for these two untimely deaths.
At the quiet end today, we learn about the forbidden romance and cold-blooded motives of two people who chose murder over divorce, death over life, and their own desires over anything that got in the way.