Murder Of Bellevue Family Still A Mystery

BELLEVUE - It was a brutal night: A mother, father and daughter bludgeoned to death in their own home.

Four months later, family, friends and residents of this city are still asking why.

Who could have murdered Tariq, Sultana and Basma Rafay, described by those who knew them as generous, kind and low-key, without a known enemy in the world?

"We are getting up wondering during the night," said Arif Rafay, Tariq's younger brother who lives in Toronto. "It's only the least we can have, if we come to know who did it."

"We are extremely puzzled," said Mujib Ahmed, a close friend and colleague of Tariq Rafay's at a Bellevue engineering firm. "You cannot imagine why anyone would do it to a person like Tariq Rafay."

It's a mystery Bellevue police have tried to answer from the moment they were called to the Rafays' Somerset home at about 2 a.m. on July 13 by the Rafays' 18-year-old son Atif and his friend Sebastian Burns, 19.

There they found Sultana and Tariq, both 56, dead, and their daughter Basma, 21, barely alive. All three had been beaten with a blunt object. Basma Rafay, who was developmentally disabled, died later that morning. The attack occurred sometime between 8 p.m. and 2 a.m., according to the medical examiner.

After months of detective work, police said, they still consider the young men as "persons of interest" in the investigation.

Several days after the incident, after giving statements to police, the young men left for Vancouver, B.C. Police tried unsuccessfully to talk to them again in Vancouver, and now need body samples from them to compare to lab results.

But Patrick Beirne, a Vancouver lawyer retained by Sebastian Burns' father, David Burns, to represent the young men, said he knew nothing of the police requests.

"I haven't heard anything," he said. "As far as I'm concerned, it's over."

Beirne said the last time he spoke to police was two months ago when Bellevue detectives traveled to Vancouver. At the time, Beirne said, police requested another meeting with the young men. But Beirne told police the young men would not agree to additional questioning unless police gave them copies of their original statements. The request, police said, goes against department policy.

Police said they are frustrated by their unwillingness to assist and baffled by their "disinterested" behavior following the murders.

"Everyone handles grief and shock differently," said Lt. Ed Mott, who is overseeing the investigation. "But that's the most different way I've ever heard."

In the immediate aftermath of the incident, police provided a hotel room for Atif Rafay and Burns while they gathered evidence in the house. Mott said the young men showed no interest either in the investigation, or in speaking to relatives about what had happened.

Through David Burns, the young men declined to comment.

As part of their investigation, police took more than 100 items from the house as evidence, shipping much of it to crime labs for analysis. Most of the results are back from the lab, Mott said. But because police haven't been able to compare the body-fluid samples and other forensic materials with samples from Burns and Atif Rafay, they can't rule out the young men.

According to their statements, the young men discovered the bloody scene when they returned home after a night out. Atif had finished his first year at Cornell University in upstate New York. He and his friend Burns were visiting his family in Bellevue after first spending time in Vancouver where they attended high school together.

After eating at a Factoria restaurant on the evening of July 12, the pair told police they attended "The Lion King" at Factoria Cinemas. Workers at both places remembered seeing them there. Police tried in vain to find any of the 19 other people who bought tickets to the 9:50 p.m. show that night who could verify that the young men stayed until the end.

After the movie, they told police, they drove downtown for a snack. A waitress at the downtown restaurant, who received a healthy tip - $4 on a $6 check - from the young men remembered them, police said. On the way home, the pair stopped at a dance club just as it was closing at about 1:30 a.m.

"They were pretty gregarious and forward," said Jack McDonald, a spokesman for the department. "Their behavior was attention-getting wherever they went."

As part of their investigation, police traveled to eastern and western Canada to interview family, friends and acquaintances of the Rafay family. They chased dozens of leads from the public and think they ruled out racial, religious and political motives against the Muslim Pakistani family. They said they found no indication that the murders were part of a robbery or a hate crime.

They want to rule out the young men, too, police said, so they can move the case forward. But even without their cooperation, police insist they are not at a dead end. "We can't get this done in 30 minutes like they do on TV, but we'll solve it," Mott said.

Meanwhile, as the days pass and the haunting questions nag, those close to the family say their frustration is building.

"We want to know who has done it and why," said Sultana's sister, Anwar Fayaz, of Edmonton, Canada. "I feel very disappointed that such a critical case hasn't been solved yet."