Authorities Believe Religious Differences Played Role in Slaying of California Father, Daughter

A man held for questioning in the murder of a father and daughter in California was upset with the family because they broke off his relationship with another daughter for religious reasons, court documents indicated.

Friends told the Orange County Register newspaper the victims were devoutly Hindu, and court papers said the religions in question were Hindu and Muslim.

Iftekhar Murtaza, 22, of Los Angeles was arrested on a fugitive warrant Saturday at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport in Arizona, and was being held on Wednesday without bail.

An extradition hearing was scheduled Thursday.

The Register reported that Murtaza had a one-way ticket to Bangladesh.

Murtaza had not been charged with a crime but was considered a "person of interest" in the deaths of Jayprakash Dhanak, 56, and his 20-year-old daughter, Karishma, Anaheim police Sgt. Rick Martinez said Wednesday.

Murtaza could not immediately be reached for comment. He had no lawyer and no one answered the telephone at his Van Nuys, California, home on Wednesday.

Police believe a second person was involved in the killings.

"We have not identified any suspects," Martinez said.

The victims were stabbed, strangled and had "moderate" burns, according to Arizona court documents.

Their burned bodies were found May 22 along a hiking trail in Irvine, several hours after their home in the Anaheim Hills was set on fire and the girl's mother, Leela Dhanak, 53, was found badly beaten and unconscious in a yard outside.

She was expected to recover.

Another daughter, Shayona, 18, was in her dormitory room at the University of California, Irvine, when the attack occurred and was placed under police protection.

Murtaza was her ex-boyfriend, court papers indicate. He was upset with her parents and sister "for discontinuing the relationship due to different religious backgrounds, Hindu and Muslim," according to papers filed in a Phoenix court.

Murtaza told authorities that he was not in Anaheim the day or evening of the killings but telephone records indicated that his cellphone was used less than two miles 2 (3 kilometers) from the crime scene and about 90 minutes before the killings, court documents said.

Martinez declined to comment on the court documents or the newspaper report and said the investigation was continuing.