Police Looking for Missing Baby Find Shovel, Car Seat

The search for a missing 7-month-old boy continued in several locations Friday, as police disclosed that a shovel and car seat had been found in a vehicle used by the man accused of kidnapping him.

An affidavit accompanying a search warrant said the items were found Wednesday in the trunk of a Lincoln Continental, owned by the brother of 30-year-old Ummad Rushdi.

Rushdi has been jailed on charges he kidnapped Hamza Ali on Sunday from a home in Upper Darby, and police have said Rushdi's brother told them Rushdi admitted he killed the child and buried him in an unnamed location.

“He's talking to us but he's not telling us where the baby is,” Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood said Friday.

Hamza's mother Zainab Gaal, 20, has told investigators that Rushdi beat her and abused the child, who was locked in a closet and a vehicle at the home they shared with others outside York because he cried, Chitwood said.

She met Rushdi through the wife of Rushdi's brother Jawwad, and was invited to move in with them, so she left her home in Maine about three months ago, Chitwood said. Soon after she became romantically involved with Rushdi, but she suffered beatings, had her hair pulled and felt like a prisoner, he said.

“Over the three-month period she noticed that they were very, very militant in their Islamic religion, and she said she was held semi-captive,” Chitwood said.

About three weeks ago they were married in a religious ceremony over which Jawwad Rushdi presided, he said.

She told police that on Sunday night Rushdi ordered her to sleep with his sister and took Hamza into another room. At around 2 a.m., he came into her room and demanded money and Jawwad Rushdi's driver's license, which she gave him.

After Gaal awoke at about 10 a.m. Sunday and realized her son and boyfriend were gone, Rushdi's family members reassured her that he likely went for a drive with the child.

On Wednesday, Jawwad Rushdi called Gaal to tell her something bad had happened and asked her to come to York, but Gaal summoned police and the investigation began. Ummad Rushdi was arrested that day at the home in the York suburbs.

He is jailed on $750,000 bail, charged with kidnapping, unlawful restraint, false imprisonment, child custody interference and endangering a child's welfare. Court officials have said he did not have a lawyer listed for him.

Searchers returned Friday to a wooded area along the Susquehanna River near Columbia where Rushdi's vehicle apparently became stuck while driving from Upper Darby to York. Chitwood said investigators suspect the baby's body may have been buried in the Columbia location, then dug up and moved. Unspecified forensic evidence recovered about 100 yards off the highway near Columbia belonged to Rushdi, he said.


Copyright AP - Associated Press
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