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Detectives would later find a note she had scribbled to Sahar, full of hearts and red ink: “i Wi SH 2 GOD DAT Ti LL i M ALIVE I’LL NEVER SEE U SAD! Rona Amir Mohammad was slouched in the middle back seat, her soaked black hair rubbing against Sahar’s.At 52, she was the eldest of the dead: the girls’ supposed “auntie,” but in fact their dad’s first wife in a secretly polygamous Afghan clan. It was June 30, 2009, the morning before Canada Day. Geoff Dempster was supposed to work the afternoon shift, two ‘til midnight, but his cellphone rang a few hours early.The police diver who swam to the bottom of the canal found Zainab Shafia in the front passenger seat, her face slumped forward, her fingernails painted a light shade of blue.
And why did the Shafias show up at the station in a green minivan—not the silver Lexus they were driving during the vacation?
Hamed, not a tear in sight, told the detective that he didn’t actually sleep at the motel with the rest of his family. “No special reason,” Hamed answered, mumbling about how the Lexus “takes more gas and fuel and stuff like that.” “The reason for coming back in the Pontiac and not the Lexus was because it’s better on gas? “Well, that’s one of the reasons.” “What would be another reason? “Nothing, ya know, that’s worth telling.” What police discovered over the next three weeks would tell a story so chilling, so unthinkable to most Canadians, that the resulting trial captivated the country like few crimes ever have.
Her black cardigan, drenched after hours underwater, was on backwards.
Sahar, her younger sister, was in the rear of the sunken Nissan Sentra, dressed in a pair of tight jeans and a sleeveless top.
It took just 15 hours of deliberation for the jurors to reach their verdict.
The evidence, utterly heartbreaking, left no real doubt about the truth.
The next morning, the Nissan—and nearly half the family—were gone. “I don’t know anything else.” But that was hardly it, as the detective soon realized.
The more questions Dempster asked, the stranger their story sounded.
“They haven’t done good and God punished them.” Today, a different punishment looms: life behind bars.
After four months, 58 witnesses, and too many lies to count, a jury found Shafia, Tooba and their beloved Hamed guilty of quadruple murder in the first degree.
Before they died, the Shafia sisters were caught in the ultimate culture clash, living in Canada but not allowed to be Canadian.