TRENTON – The Galloway Township man who allegedly threw his infant daughter from the Driscoll Bridge on the Garden State Parkway in February was indicted today by a state grand jury on charges of murder, kidnapping, attempted murder and other crimes, Attorney General Paula T. Dow and Criminal Justice Director Stephen J. Taylor announced.
According to Taylor, the Division of Criminal Justice obtained a six-count state grand jury indictment charging Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem, 22, with murder (1st degree), kidnapping (1st degree), endangering the welfare of a child (2nd degree), two counts of aggravated assault (2nd degree), and attempted murder (1st degree).
“This indictment of Mr. Abdur-Raheem for the alleged murder of his infant daughter represents important progress in our quest for justice for Baby Zara,” said Dow. “This is a heartbreaking case of domestic violence.”
“Investigators diligently pursued the evidence in this case, which corroborated initial reports that the defendant threw the baby from the bridge,” said Taylor. “That evidence has been presented to a state grand jury, resulting in these very serious charges for which Mr. Abdur-Raheem now faces trial.”
It is alleged that Abdur-Raheem killed his 3-month-old daughter, Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem, by causing her to fall from the Driscoll Bridge in Woodbridge Township into the Raritan River on the afternoon of Feb. 16. He allegedly pushed or threw her from the front passenger window of his Dodge Caravan, which was parked on the southbound shoulder of the Garden State Parkway. The baby fell an estimated 140 feet from the bridge.
Abdur-Raheem is charged with attempted murder and aggravated assault for allegedly attacking the baby’s maternal grandmother and striking her with his vehicle while abducting the infant from the grandmother’s apartment in East Orange before the baby was thrown from the bridge.
The infant’s mother had custody of the child and obtained a restraining order against Abdur-Raheem that same day. The infant was in the care of the 60-year-old grandmother when, at approximately 4 p.m., Abdur-Raheem allegedly entered the grandmother’s apartment. As the grandmother attempted to hold onto the baby, Abdur-Raheem allegedly struck the grandmother in the head and face, choked her, and banged her head against the floor.
Abdur-Raheem allegedly took the infant girl, but the grandmother followed him outside and got in front of his vehicle in an attempt to stop him. Abdur-Raheem allegedly struck the grandmother with the Dodge Caravan and drove away with the baby. The attempted murder charge relates to the alleged attack on the grandmother inside the apartment as well as the alleged act of striking her with the vehicle.
Abdur-Raheem was arrested that night at a family member’s home in Winslow Township after the family member called police shortly after 8 p.m. to report that Abdur-Raheem was at the house. Police received information at that time that Abdur-Raheem allegedly threw the infant from the bridge, and the State Police immediately commenced an intensive search.
Before his arrest, Abdur-Raheem had gone to see his imam, his Islamic religious leader, in Atlantic City, and the imam drove him to the home of the relative who called police.
The infant’s body remained missing until April 24, when it was found by people walking on the south bank of the Raritan River, just east of the Route 35 Victory Bridge. DNA tests confirmed that it was Zara Malani-Lin Abdur-Raheem.
Shamsiddin Abdur-Raheem is being held in the Essex County Jail with bail set at $2 million.
Deputy Attorney General Andrew C. Fried presented the case to the state grand jury for the Division of Criminal Justice. He will be prosecuting the case with Deputy Attorney General Paul Salvatoriello.
The investigation was conducted by the New Jersey State Police, Division of Criminal Justice, East Orange Police Department, Winslow Township Police Department, Essex County Prosecutor’s Office and Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office. Detectives Harry McDermott and Timothy P. Coyle are assigned to the case for the New Jersey State Police. Detective Kevin Coleman is the lead detective for the East Orange Police Department on this case.
The first-degree murder charge carries a sentence of 30 years to life in state prison. The kidnapping charge carries a maximum sentence of 30 years in state prison, and the attempted murder charge carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in state prison. Second-degree charges carry a maximum sentence of 10 years in state prison.
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