Unsolved Murders

Sohaib Usmani

Age: 11

Sex: male

Date: 15 Oct 2012

Place: Barn Mead, Harlow, Essex

Sabah Usmani (mother), Muneeb Usmani 9, Rayyan Usmani 6, Hira Usmani 12, Sohaib Usmani 11 and Maheen Usmani 3 all died in a fire at their house. Their deaths are classed as murder.

Sabah Usmani, Muneeb Usmani, Rayyan Usmani and Hira Usmani died in the fire.

Sohaib Usmani and Maheen Usmani died a few days later in hospital.

Sabah Usmani's husband survived after he jumped out of the upstairs window.

When Sabah Usmani was found she was on all fours over Maheen Usmani and covered in a blanket which was said to have been to protect Maheen Usmani and to have afforded Maheen Usmani survival for another three days before she too also died.

The family were originally from Pakistan.

Fire scientists said that the fire was probably caused by a malicious ignition. However, they also said that they could not rule out an accidental cause but said that there was also insufficient evidence to say it was an accident. It started at 1.40am whilst the family were asleep.

The house had been burgled a few hours before the fire during which Sabah Usmani's husband's black Toshiba Satellite laptop computer was stolen.

The laptop was never recovered although its bag and two-pin lead, along with an adaptor, were later found in a hedge along a footpath between St Michael's Close and Whitewaits by two teenagers who had picked it up and then left it near some lock-up garages in Whitewaits where it was recovered by the police 11 days after the fire.

The laptop had been bought in Saudi-Arabia and required a two-pin plug. When the bag was found it had an adaptor in it which didn’t belong to Sabah Usmani's husband.

It was noted that the burglary had been one of a number in the area that night.

The neighbour's Ford Focus car, which was 20m away from the house, was also set on fire.

Four youths, aged 16-19, were seen in the area around the time of the fire, and were said to have possibly been wearing tracksuits and baseball caps. One of them was described as taller than the others.

Separately, two other youths were seen in the area on bicycles.

In 2017 the police released a list of current lines of enquiry:

  • Identity of a white man aged in his late teens/early 20s that was seen on a bicycle in the area when the house and car were set alight.
  • Information on the whereabouts of Sabah Usmani's husband's black Toshiba Satellite laptop computer which was stolen earlier on in the burglary before the fire.
  • Information about how the bag and lead for the laptop came to be left in the hedge between Whitewaits and St Michael's Close.
  • Information from anyone in the Harlow area whose shaver plug went missing at about the time of the fire. The police noted that the adaptor found with the abandoned lead and bag did not belong to the Usmani family.
  • Information about the car fire.
  • Details about a person who rang Harlow police and left a message about the fire in November 2012.
  • Details regarding a person who left a piece of paper about the murder investigation on a shelf in Boots in Harlow.

The investigation to solve the murders was called Operation Shakespeare.

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