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Spokane police investigating potential co-conspirator in case of woman found strangled to death in burning car

UPDATED: Wed., Feb. 12, 2020

Spokane Police arrested the ex-husband of Ibithal Darraji, a 29-year-old Iraqi immigrant who died of strangulation. Her body was found inside a burning car on the South Hill last week. (KHQ)
Spokane Police arrested the ex-husband of Ibithal Darraji, a 29-year-old Iraqi immigrant who died of strangulation. Her body was found inside a burning car on the South Hill last week. (KHQ)

Spokane police detectives are investigating a potential co-conspirator in the killing of an Iraqi immigrant found strangled to death in her burning car at the end of last month.

Police arrested Yasir A. Darraji, 30, on suspicion of killing his ex-wife, Ibtihal Darraji, 29, on Jan. 31. He is charged with first-degree murder.

Now police have requested to search the phone of one of Yasir Darraji’s close friends who lives within two blocks of the crime scene, according to court documents. The friend, who has not been charged with a crime, was also seen on security camera footage at a Rosauers grocery store near the crime scene about an hour before Ibtihal Darraji was found dead.

Police say the friend purchased car air freshener at the store, made a phone call in his car, then went back into the store and purchased cleaning supplies, according to court documents. He later gave police permission to search his car, phone and home. He told police he was expecting Yasir Darraji to drop off medication at his home the night of the killing and last talked to him about 10 hours before Ibtihal Darraji was found dead.

Yasir Darraji’s friend also was involved in a Jan. 9 incident in which Ibtihal Darraji and her friend had confronted the man about allegedly spreading rumors that Ibtihal was pregnant out of wedlock in order to damage her standing in her local and Iraqi community, according to court documents. The friend called Yasir Darraji in order to secretly record the conversation and told a Spokane County sheriff’s deputy that Ibtihal Darraji’s friend had assaulted him, though no arrests were made.

Ibtihal and Yasir Darraji spent much of their lives in Iraq, according to court documents. Ibtihal Darraji’s friend told police that in their culture, Ibtihal’s actions would reflect poorly on Yasir, even four years after their divorce.

Ibtihal Darraji’s friends told police that Yasir Darraji was angry with Ibtihal for going out to nightclubs, wanted her to move back to Iraq and threatened to kill her, according to court documents.

An ex-girlfriend, whom Yasir Darraji dated shortly after his divorce, told police he had threatened to kill her multiple times and assaulted her when she was pregnant with their child, according to court documents. She told police Yasir Darraji threatened to burn down her mother’s house with gasoline and always kept a 2-gallon container of gasoline on his back porch while she lived with him.

The Spokane County medical examiner’s office said there was evidence of a fire accelerant on Ibtihal Darraji’s clothing and body during an autopsy, which indicated to police the car fire was a purposeful attempt to destroy evidence, according to court records.

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