Authorities found two beheaded men buried in Buena Vista, N.J., last week after being notified about suspicious activity at a local home. According to police, Yusuf Ibrahim, a 27-year-old man from Jersey City, allegedly killed the two Egyptian foreign nationals by shooting them in the chest; then, he reportedly cut off their heads and hands, burying the bodies and parts in a wooded area behind the house.
An investigation was launched last Thursday, using cadaver dogs to locate soil that had recently been dug up. Under it, the two corpses were found. Later, at a nearby location, police also discovered the accompanying heads and hands, WNBC-TV reports.
The bizarre details extend well beyond the murder, though. The accused was allegedly spotted last week driving a white Mercedes Benz that belonged to one of the victims. Later, he purportedly attempted to set the car ablaze in Philadelphia and subsequently abandoned it. Police suspect that the killings might have unfolded inside of this vehicle.
According to sources, the three men lived near one another, although their associations are not entirely clear. Sources did say that the victims were roommates. In a press release, New Jersey State Police announced that they were ages 25 and 27, but their identities have been held, as authorities have reportedly had difficulty notifying their relatives.
“These were grisly murders in which the defendant allegedly shot both victims in the chest at close range,” said New Jersey Attorney General Jeffrey Chiesa. “We allege that the defendant was ruthless and calculating in the manner in which he carried out the killings and attempted to prevent identification of the victims by cutting off their heads and hands before burying their bodies.”
But while Ibrahim is being accused of these horrific crimes, Emma Abdelrehim, a close family friend and former roommate, is speaking out and claiming that the man she knew would never be capable of such actions.
“They are describing him as a monster, but that’s not how I’ve known him,” she told NJ.com. “He was an awesome person, awesome with kids, and he would never harm anyone, not even an animal.”
Abdelrehim, who admittedly hasn’t seen Ibrahim for a long time, was his roommate for a time — however, she last lived with him three years ago. While she noted that people can change and that she hasn’t interacted with him in quite some time, she said that she never experienced any signs that he would be violent; she also questioned his guilt.
“When I opened my door to him there was no violence, nothing that would make you suspect he would harm anyone…I never saw him with a gun or with any weapon,” she added. “Maybe it was the victims’ gun. Maybe it was self-defense.”
Abdelrehim described her former roommate, who is also Egyptian, as a Muslim who was not particularly religious.
On Sunday, Ibrahim was arrested at his apartment. The Associated press reports that he is being charged with two counts of murder and desecration of human remains. Police claim that he allegedly murdered the men sometime after Feb 3. Ibrahim was already wanted in connection to a 2012 armed robbery in Jersey City.