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Was the Santa Claus Killer's Christmas Day Massacre an 'Honor Killing?


"Yazdanpanah...didn't like his daughter's non-Muslim boyfriend and was exhibiting stalker behavior."

Motive can be a tough element to pinpoint, especially when there are few details left behind in a complicated homicide case. On Monday, the Blaze reported on the tragic murderous rampage by a man dressed up as Santa Claus in Grapevine, Texas. Now, some allege that the entire incident was an honor killing.

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The murderer, identified as 56-year-old Aziz Yazdanpanah, apparently went to his estranged wife's apartment dressed in costume and killed six people. Sadly, this included his own children and family members. According to the International Business Times, the victims were (although names have not officially been released by the medical examiner):

...Yazdanpanah's ex-wife Nasrin Rahmaty (55), daughter Nona Yazdanpanah (19), son Ali Yazdanpanah (15), sister-in-law Zohreh Rahmaty (58), brother-in-law Hossein Zarei (59) and niece Sahra Zarei (22).

Following the incident, Robert Spencer, a well-known author and columnist who runs the web site Jihad Watch, wonders if Yazdanpanah, who was a Muslim, couldn't handle the fact that his daughter was dating a non-believer. In this potential scenario, Yazdanpanah would have killed the family to avoid any associated dishonor resulting from the relationship. An article published on Jihad Watch reads:

Aziz Yazdanpanah, a Muslim, didn't like his daughter's non-Muslim boyfriend and was exhibiting stalker behavior. [...]

Again and again we have seen honor killings in which fathers kill daughters who are dating non-Muslims or have supposedly besmirched the family honor by some sexual indiscretion. Lt. Todd Dearing says that motive isn't important -- which is generally only the case when Islam is involved.

Initial media reports portrayed a man whose life was in ruins. In 2010, Yazdanpanah filed for bankruptcy and then he and his wife separated earlier this year. Additionally, his home foreclosed. All of these occurrences come with a great deal of stress and isolation. Collectively, it's entirely possible that the strain from each played a role in his horrendous actions.

In addressing the "honor killing" potential, Jihad Watch quotes Nona Yazdanpanah's (Yazdanpanah's daughter) friend, Lacie Reed. The young girl was quoted as saying, "She (Nona) would come to school crying and telling us her dad was crazy. He wouldn't let her wear certain things. He was always taking her phone away, checking her call history and checking her text messages."

Reed went on to say that Nona couldn't date until she was "a certain age" and that she wasn't allowed to date anyone outside of the family's race or religion. In addition to these details, Jihad Watch also claims that Yazdanpanah had installed cameras around the family's home in an effort to monitor the activities that were going on.

These quotes, in themselves, are not enough to definitively call the murder-suicide an "honor killing." That being said, the information, should it be true, does cause some questions to emerge.

So far, the Grapevine Police Department has been tight-lipped about the details surrounding the case, so any and all theories regarding motive will have to wait for definitive answering.

"We never really have encountered a situation with this many victims that were shot and killed," Sgt. Roger Eberling said. "We're still trying to uncover the background here. This is the worst homicide we've ever had."

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