ANAHEIM, California – A 22-year-old man has been detained for questioning in the deaths of an Indian man and his daughter whose burned bodies were found last week in Orange County, authorities said Tuesday.
Iftekhar Murtaza of Los Angeles was taken into custody Friday on a fugitive warrant in Arizona after investigators learned he was planning to leave the United States, police Sgt. Rick Martinez said.
Murtaza was apprehended at Phoenix Sky Harbor International Airport by the U.S. Marshals Office. He was being considered a "person of interest" in the deaths of Jayprakash Dhanak and his 20-year-old daughter Karishma Dhanak, Martinez said.
Authorities declined to elaborate on the warrant and would not say where Murtaza was headed. Martinez said no charges have been filed and the investigation was continuing.
"This case is very wide and complex, and there's a lot of missing pieces to the puzzle," he said. "We're still trying to get a clear picture of what took place, and who was involved."
It was not immediately known whether Murtaza had hired an attorney. A residential phone listing for him was disconnected.
Several hours before the bodies were found May 22 along a hiking trail, the Dhanak family home was set ablaze and mother, Leela, was found unconscious and badly beaten outside. She remained hospitalized Tuesday, and authorities said they have yet to interview her.
Another daughter, Shayona, 18, was elsewhere when the attack occurred and was under police protection.
Police believe at least two men committed the crimes. Martinez would not say if Murtaza knows the family, although both Shayona and Karishma Dhanak are listed as friends of Murtaza on Facebook.com.
The family immigrated from India years ago. Local newspapers said they had been in California at least since the early 1980s, were active in the Indian community and were devout Hindus.