Shehada Issa, a 69-year-old Los Angeles man, was arrested and charged with murdering his adult son over his sexual orientation. Police responded to a horrific double murder scene on Tuesday – Issa’s wife, 68-year-old Rabihah Issa, was also found dead at the family home in North Hills. Prosecutors said Issa had repeatedly threatened to kill his son, 29-year-old Amir Issa, because he was gay.
Reports The Associated Press on April 2, via MSN News: “While the Los Angeles County district attorney’s office charged father Shehada Issa on Friday with murder as a hate crime in the son’s death, investigators on Saturday still were trying to determine responsibility for a second killing at the home discovered by police at the same time, that of Amir’s mother.”
According to the county coroner, Rabihah Issa was repeatedly stabbed. Police said she may have been dead for some time. While Shehada Issa told police he shot Amir out of self-defense after he discovered his wife’s body, prosecutors are supporting a different motive.
“The murder was committed because of the victim’s sexual orientation and because of the defendant’s perception of that status and the victims’ association with a person and a group of that status,” Los Angeles prosecutors said in a statement.
Investigators said Issa made incriminating statements regarding the shooting. A shotgun was recovered at the scene. “[Shehada] claimed his son was armed with a knife, and there was no knife to be found. It was a horrible family tragedy,” said Detective John Doerbecker.
Shehada Issa was not charged in his wife’s death, though he admitted to using the shotgun to shoot his son multiple times in the face and abdomen.
The son had been living in an apartment in the back of the house, but his parents were attempting to legally have him evicted. “Our detectives were involved in the eviction process to try to get him removed from the property,” said Sgt. Greg Bruce, adding that the son had vandalized his parent’s home.
The Los Angeles Times described the Issas as living in a “high-crime neighborhood, where few speak English and most take pains to guard what little they have.” According to the Times, a toxic mix of “drugs, mental illness, homophobia and extreme family dysfunction” led to the double murder.
Neighbor Joel Munoz, 38, who lives across the street from the Issas, said Shehada would often speak to him about his son’s drug addiction and mental illnesses. “He was a good guy,” Munoz said about Shehada. “The son was a bad guy. I’m so sorry for the old man.”
According to the Times, Amir Issa’s Facebook page revealed distressing mental issues. His last post came ten days before he was killed, and he spoke about his parents “literally controlling me in my sleep” and saying that “they tell people to rape and molest me and make it seem like I enjoy that… If there is a devil or evil spirit, I truly believe it manifests itself in my family.”
Adds the Times: “Amir also posted a video to his Facebook page in which he interrogates his parents about whether they had performed certain sex acts. ‘That’s not appropriate for a child to ask his parents,’ Rabihah Issa says to the camera as she sits on the sofa, a large crucifix on the wall behind her. Shehada Issa responds more angrily to his son, calling him a ‘pervert’ and saying, ‘None of your relatives want to have anything to do with you.’”