It's not clear what charges are being laid, but The Whig-Standard learned that Kingston Police have been investigating, for at least two weeks, the allegation that the deaths were an honour killing
"We are convinced that this is a crime of honour," Diba Masoomi told Kingston Police, in an email sent to the police chief's office roughly two weeks ago.
The newspaper obtained a copy of the email from Masoomi, who lives in Niort, France. She claims she is the sister of Rona Amir Mohammed and she also offered the stunning allegation that the dead woman was the first wife of Mohammed Shafi,
the father of the three dead girls.
She provided photos that she claims show Shafi and Mohammed at their wedding in Afghanistan 30 years ago. The couple never divorced.
Masoomi said the marriage has been hidden since the family moved to Canada two years ago.
In interviews after the deaths, Shafi and the woman he presented as his only wife, Tooba Mohammed Yhaya, said Rona Mohammed was a cousin.
"For some time, my sister, as well as the Shafi couple's oldest daughter, Zainab, had been receiving death threats
for social, cultural and family reasons," Masoomi's email to Kingston Police states.
In an interview through translation, Masoomi, who does not speak English or French, explained that Rona Mohammed has stayed in regular contact with relatives in Europe, and has told them she feared for her life.
"She was really afraid," Masoomi told the Whig-Standard, through her daughter Elaha Masoomi. "There were death threats."
Diba Masoomi said that Rona Mohammed married Shafi in Kabul, Afghanistan. When she could not have children, he took a second wife, a practice that is not uncommon in Afghani culture
Shafi and his second wife had seven children.
Masoomi said her sister remained with the family and raised the children, even when they moved to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, 17 years ago.
In interviews four days after the car was found underwater at Kingston Mills, Mohammed Shafi and Tooba Mohammed Yhaya surmised that the car ended up in the water as the result of a joyride.
They said their eldest daughter, Zainab, had taken the car without permission in the past, even though she did not have a licence. She was trying to learn to drive.
Yhaya said sometime later, Zainab came to her room and asked for the keys to the family's Nissan so she could get some clothes from the car.
The next morning, when she awoke, the mother said the Nissan was missing along her three daughters and Rona Mohammed. The family could not reach anyone by cellphone. They filed a missing-person report with police and drove on to Montreal, believing the other group had left without them.
Ali Shafi, who was on the trip to Niagara Falls, told the newspaper he could not remember at which motel the family stayed.
The only turmoil the family displayed, according to Carpanzano (a neighbor)
, occurred about a month before the deaths at Kingston Mills when the oldest brother told him that his sister, 19-year-old Zainab, had left home suddenly.
"The older brother said, 'We called the police because my sister, she ran away,'" recounted Carpanzano. "From what we heard it seemed she was going out with somebody the parents didn't want and she ran away
, defying her parents' authority."
Kingston Police have described the incident as perplexing from the start, noting that a car would have had to negotiate many obstacles to make it into the water at that spot in Kingston Mills.
There was no damage to any of the lock equipment, tables or other objects around the edge where the car is presumed to have plunged into the water.
The submerged car was first spotted by a lock worker who was preparing to move the first boats through the canal that day just after 8:30 a.m.
The car was resting on its wheels, its front end up against the lock wall, as if the vehicle plunged in backwards.
Police have never released any information about what was learned when autopsies were done on the victims.