The mystery surrounding the kidnapping and rape of at least 13 girls since 2006 that had challenged Jeddah’s entire police apparatus was solved with help of a nine-year-old girl.
A 43-year-old schoolteacher and married father of five is in custody thanks to the girl’s recollection of events that forced her to become the 13th (or according to some reports, the 16th) victim of a brutal crime.
The man has been linked to the crimes with DNA evidence. Over the past four years up to 30 other suspects had been investigated.
According to a report in Saturday’s Al-Madinah newspaper, the girl was able to identify the house she was taken to because of the muezzin’s voice from the nearby mosque, as well as the smell of sheesha inside the home where she was sexually assaulted.
Police drew a near perfect sketch of the house and the neighborhood with help of the girl’s memory.
The man also made one damning mistake: he used his own vehicle to kidnap the girl, and it was parked near his home.
On the day before the arrest, Maj. Sultan Al-Malki of Jeddah police took the girl close to the house of the suspect in an unmarked car.
The suspect was standing in front of a nearby shop and the officer brought the car close to the man so that the girl could identify him. The girl did not confirm him that he was the man but said he looked like him, the source said.
On that day detectives did not confront the suspect. However, late in the night they brought the girl again to the location to make sure that she made no mistake in identifying the house. She had no doubt about the house because of the pungent odor of sheesha. She had earlier said that the man had smoked sheesha while she was his captive.
Police later went to the man’s house to say he needed to go to the station to give a statement about a traffic accident he had been involved in, and that it would only take a few minutes.
Waiting at the station were the girls who had been raped. They all identified him as their assaulter, and five were able to positively affirm that the house was the scene of the crime. And, finally, the nail in the proverbial coffin: the investigators say the man’s DNA matched samples taken from the girls’ clothing.
Over the years, police tracked and suspected several men, some of whom were engaged in suspicious activities at local malls.
Police say they were able to nab one of Jeddah’s most notorious criminals thanks to the low-key approach taken by the victims’ families. Had the media whipped up panic about the crimes the man might have changed his strategy to be more careful in covering his tracks. Because he didn’t think the cops were on his trail, he didn’t change his methods and his victims were able to finally bring him to the scales of justice.