FBI special agents made a big arrest earlier this month following a long investigation into a heartbreaking drowning case several years ago.
A man is accused of killing his two young sons, who were both affected by severe autism, by driving his vehicle off a California pier into the Pacific ocean. Federal prosecutors announced that they are bringing charges against 44-year-old Ali Elmezayen, who was arrested on Nov. 7. Prosecutors say the man killed his children so that he could cash in on up to $6 million in insurance policies he’d secured on them.
Elmezayen is facing federal charges such as aggravated identity theft and mail and wire fraud, now over three years since the children were killed. Prosecutors allege Elmezayen posed as his domestic partner when phoning insurance companies in an effort to defraud these companies, according to a news release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Central District of California.
After purchasing several accidental death insurance policies in excess of $6 million on himself, his domestic partner and his kids, Elmezayen got behind the wheel of his 1998 Honda Civic on April 9, 2015. He allegedly sped off a wharf at the Port of Los Angeles, plunging his vehicle and his family into the deep, dark and swirling waters below.
“Witnesses heard the tires of the car screech loudly and saw the car accelerate before it flew off the edge of the wharf, crashed into the water and immediately sunk,” FBI agent Matthew Parker wrote in an affidavit last week, according to reporting by the Associated Press and U.S. News and World News Report.
The U.S. Attorney’s release states that Elmezayen was able to quickly escape and reach the surface by swimming out of the open driver’s side window. He managed to reach the safety of a nearby ladder on the side of the pier, CBS News reports.
His domestic partner, Rabib Diab, was unable to swim and tried to stay afloat, frantically crying out “My kids, my kids!” the AP reports. A nearby fisherman threw her a flotation device and pulled her out of the water.
However, 8-year-old Abdelkarim and 13-year-old Elhassan could not make it out and drowned. The kids were strapped into child seats. The AP also resorts that the couple’s third son was away at camp.
According to the AP reports, Elmezayen told investigators he may have accidentally hit the accelerator instead of the brake, and the incident may have had something to do with medication he had taken for a blood condition two days prior, Newsweek reports.
Federal prosecutors aren’t buying this explanation, and instead believe he spent several years developing his deadly plan. “This case alleges a calculated and cold-hearted scheme to profit off the deaths of two helpless children,” U.S. Attorney Nick Hanna says in the release.
Following the kids’ death, Elmezayen walked away with more than $260,000 in insurance proceeds on the accidental death insurance policies he had taken out on the boy’s lives in 2012 and 2013 from two insurance companies, according to the release states.
A U.S. Magistrate judge ruled in Tuesday’s detention hearing that Elmezayen must be held without bail, as he’s a flight risk and a danger to Diab and their surviving son, the AP reported.
Elmezayen has not yet entered a plea and is set to be arraigned on Thursday, Nov. 29.