One-time Texas fugitive gets life in daughters’ 2008 ‘honor killings’

IRVING, Texas — A Texas father was sentenced last week to serve life in prison for murdering his two teen daughters in 2008 in what prosecutors described as “honor killings.”

Yaser Abdel Said, 65, of Lewisville, was found guilty of capital murder in the deaths of Amina Said, 18, and 17-year-old Sarah Said. The girls were found shot to death in their father’s taxi on New Year’s Day 2008.

The case, which for 14 years has garnered national attention, was the subject of a 2016 documentary titled “The Price of Honor.”

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Evidence in the case included bullet-riddled portions of Yaser Said’s cab, as well as a chilling 911 call placed by Sarah Said, who named her father as her killer. Sarah was shot nine times; Amina was shot twice at point-blank range.

Prosecutors argued at trial that the Egyptian-born Yaser Said, who spent six years on the FBI’s 10 Most Wanted List before being captured in 2020, killed his daughters out of anger that they were dating American boys. The state painted him as a controlling, manipulative father who had threatened more than once to kill his entire family, including his wife and mother of his three children.

“He controlled what they did, who they talked to, who they could be friends with and who they could date,” prosecutor Lauren Black said in court, according to WFAA in Dallas.

Jurors learned that the older girl, Amina, had written a lengthy email to her history teacher on Dec. 21, 2007, regarding her father’s tight control on his family.

“He has simply made our lives a nightmare. He’s one man, not God,” Amina wrote.

WFAA reported that the 18-year-old wrote that she and her younger sister trusted their teacher to keep their confidence about their plans for their future.

“We don’t want police involved until we are totally ready,” Amina wrote. “I am so scared right now. It’s crazy.”

The teen wrote that her father did not allow her or her sister to date and that he was in the process of arranging her marriage. She said Said had told her she could not wait any longer.

She also made a chilling prediction.

“He will, without any drama or doubt, kill us,” Amina told the teacher.

Though Said has denied killing his daughters, he admitted in a letter to the judge that he was unhappy with the girls’ social lives.

“I was not happy about my kids’ dating activity, but I did not do the killing or any plan to hurt them,” he wrote in July 2021. “That’s fact.”

He again admitted his anger when he testified in his own defense.

“I was upset because in my culture it’s something to get upset about,” Said said through a translator.

He again denied killing the children. According to CBS News, Said testified that he and his daughters were driving to dinner when he spotted someone following his taxi. He said he assumed it was friends of his daughters, but then testified that he was afraid it was someone who wanted to harm him.

Said told jurors he left his daughters in the cab and fled into woods near the Omni Mandalay Hotel in Irving, where the girls were later found dead.

“I did not expect anyone would harm them,” Said said in court, according to the network.

Jurors took about three hours to convict Said, who was immediately sentenced. He will not be eligible for parole.

“There is nothing honorable about what Yaser Said did on Jan. 1, 2008,” Dallas County Criminal District Attorney John Creuzot said in a statement.

Creuzot said there is no excuse for taking the teens’ lives. Now, the district attorney said, Said will spend the rest of his life under the control of others — his jailers.

“While this verdict does not bring Sarah and Amina back, my office and this jury have done all that is in our power to see that justice is done,” Creuzot said.

Said’s son, Islam Said, 34, and his brother, Yassein Said, 61, were also arrested in 2020 and charged with helping him evade capture for more than a decade. Yassein Said was found guilty in February 2021 and sentenced to serve 12 years in federal prison, according to authorities.

Islam Said pleaded guilty last year and was sentenced to serve 10 years in federal prison.

Patricia Owens, Said’s ex-wife and the mother of all three of the Said children, addressed her former husband in a victim’s impact statement. In the statement, she told Said he deserves to die now — not after living for decades in a prison cell.

She accused him of not only abusing their daughters but also of brainwashing their son.

“That mean look that you are glaring at me with? I’m not scared of you anymore,” Owens told Said. “You made me a strong person, but you took my life. You took my family. All in one day.

“You can keep those evil eyes on me as long as you want, but you will never break me down again. Nor will you ever be able to hurt another person.”

Watch Patricia Owens’ victim impact statement below, courtesy of Court TV.

She angrily told him that she hopes someone harms him as badly as he harmed their children.

“That’s counting the nine bullets you put in Sarah. Nine,” Owens said.

Amina, she said, was shot twice through the heart.

Owens said she prays on a daily basis for her former husband to suffer.

“I hope your life is so miserable that you wish you would have just killed yourself,” she said, calling him a coward and nothing. “You are a prisoner. You are a murderer, and the devil.”

A brutal double killing

Irving police dispatchers received a 911 call around 7:30 p.m. on New Year’s Day 2008 from a woman in obvious distress at an unknown location.

The caller was 17-year-old Sarah Said.

“Help me, I’m dying,” the crying teen shouted in the call. “Oh my God, not again! It’s not over! Stop it!”

Listen to a portion of the 911 call below, courtesy of WFAA in Dallas.

Sarah Said identified her father as her assailant, saying he’d shot her, before her words became unintelligible and trailed off.

Court records show that officers spent about an hour trying to find the injured teen, tracking the call to within a half-mile of her location.

Eventually, dispatchers received a second call from an Omni Mandalay employee who found both sisters unresponsive in a JetTaxi cab outside the hotel. The cab was parked in line with several other taxis awaiting fares.

One sister was seated in the front passenger seat, the other in the back seat. The sister sitting in the front had blood flowing from her ear.

“They don’t look alive,” the passerby told dispatchers, according to the AP.

Both teens were dead when police arrived. Shell casings were found in the cab with their bodies.

Read the criminal complaint against Yaser Said below.

Yaser Said quickly became a suspect in their killings after detectives contacted the registered owner of the cab and learned that Said had been driving it for the past 10 days, according to a 2008 affidavit for Said’s arrest.

“The wife of the defendant was contacted, who advised that the defendant has threatened her and her two children (Amina and Sarah) in the past,” the affidavit states. “The most recent time was just prior to Christmas, when the defendant threatened to kill the entire family.”

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Owens, who at the time went by Patricia Said, told police her husband had threatened “bodily harm” against Sarah Said for dating a non-Muslim boy. The terrified mother had fled with the girls in the week before the killings because she was “in great fear for her life,” police said.

The day of the shooting, Yaser Said picked up his estranged daughters “to talk with them,” their mother told police. The girls never returned home.

“Said persuaded his estranged daughters … to visit him. He said he was going to take them to get something to eat,” FBI officials said in 2014, when Yaser Said was added to the agency’s most-wanted list. “Instead, he allegedly drove them in his taxi cab to a remote location and used a handgun to murder them.”

Watch the Irving Police Department’s 2020 announcement of Yaser Said’s capture below.

Police surrounded the family’s Lewisville home the next day, firing tear gas into the house before entering. The house was empty and Yaser Said was gone.

A $100,000 reward was offered for information leading to the fugitive’s arrest. The case was also featured in local, statewide and national media, including a segment on America’s Most Wanted.

Federal court records show that Islam Said and his uncle conspired to hide Yaser Said from authorities, first at an apartment in Bedford and then at an apartment in Justin, where Yaser Said was taken into custody in 2020.

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