FBI now involved in murder of 57-year-old woman in Surprise

Police say Amal Bahjat was found dead in her home. The FBI are now involved in this homicide investigation.

SURPRISE, Ariz. - The FBI is now involved in the case of a murdered woman, found dead in her home early Tuesday morning. Surprise police confirmed they are using the help of FBI translators to gather evidence and conduct interviews in the investigation.

"There's no such thing as typical," said Sergeant Tim Klarkowski with Surprise police. "Every case is different depending on the nature of the case and circumstances surrounding it.”

Police identified the victim Thursday as 57-year-old Amal Bahjat.

The circumstances in this case are difficult for a department without specific knowledge of the Arabic language and culture involved.

"We didn't get to know them because they didn't really know much English, but I don't really know what nationality they are," said Jourdan Peterson, who lives next door to the crime scene.

Peterson, along with other neighbors, couldn't provide much information because of a language barrier. This is the same issue police were dealing with before soliciting help from the FBI.

Isabella Maldonado is a retired police captain with more than 20 years of experience with the Fairfax County Police Department In Virginia. Without any specific knowledge of this case, Maldonado said the FBI’s involvement is a sign of something bigger than one piece of evidence.

"If you are bringing in a translator, there is more involved than a particular phrase. Some translators are able to work with the language. Others bring a cultural awareness to the situation," Maldonado said.

Another reason to bring in FBI translators is to make sure the right questions are asked to the right people who may be involved.

"If you wanted to interview a suspect or witness, and if you are doing that, it's crucial to have someone there to help with the interpretation," Maldonado said.

Bahjat did live at home with her husband, but there is no word of whether he was home at the time of the murder. Police tell 12 News they have and are speaking with her husband but are not calling him a suspect at this time.

© 2017 KPNX-TV


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