Honor Killing of Muslim Woman in Staten Island; Father Charged with Murder

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Ola Salem, 25, of Rosebank, was found covered in leaves and fully clothed in the popular park on Oct. 24 by a passerby, the Advance previously reported. (Facebook photo)

By Benyamin Davidson

Kabary Salem, father of the 25-year-old whose body was discovered in a park on Staten Island last year,   virtually appeared in court last week in connection with his daughter’s death.  As reported by the NY Times, Mr. Salem is being charged with a seven-count indictment including murder, strangulation and concealment of a human corpse.

In October 2019, Ola Salem was found dead.  She had been a well-loved volunteer at a domestic violence shelter in South Brooklyn for Muslim women and youth.  The local media had immediately suspected her husband, whom the police said she had a turbulent relationship with.  At that time, her father steered investigators in a different direction, saying that she had several times spoken of being followed on the highway.

As per the Times, now, a year later, authorities believe this was a tale her father fabricated to mislead investigators.  Mr. Salem,52, is now the prime suspect for allegedly killing his daughter, and dragging her body into Bloomingdale Park in the Prince’s Bay neighborhood to conceal it with branches and leaves.   Court records show that he pleads not guilty.  His lawyer did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

“Throughout the course of this tragic case, we had never lost hope that the alleged killer would be arrested and charged,” Michael E. McMahon, the Staten Island district attorney said in a statement. “We will continue to work tirelessly to hold this defendant accountable.”

On October 23, 2019, Ola Salem had been in Pennsylvania with her father, who worked as a driver and was formerly a professional boxer who competed in the Olympics.   Law enforcement officials assert that the investigation turned when it was the discovered that Mr. Salem had rented a car from Avis on Oct. 22.  Mr. Salem had originally told investigators that he had driven his daughter home to New York in their family car.   Detectives learned that Mr. Salem used the rental car to travel extensively in Staten Island, and made a stop in the park where her body was discarded.

Police allege that Mr. Salem strangled his daughter in Pennsylvania, drove to Staten Island to dump her body in the park, returned to Pa and then later fled the country.  In December. Mr. Salem was arrested in Kuwait with help from the State Department and Interpol, and extradited back to NY.  Prosecutors have not revealed a motive for the killing.  Mr. Salem is slated to appear in court again on Feb. 5.