A former Kirkland woman who police say fled to the Middle East three months after her husband was fatally stabbed in May 2019 was charged Tuesday with premeditated first-degree murder and first-degree conspiracy to commit murder in connection with his death, according to King County prosecutors.
Saif Al Obaidi, now 38, was arrested leaving his Redmond home six hours after the woman’s husband, 40-year-old Darwin Garcia Franco, was stabbed more than 30 times early on May 31, 2019, court records show. Al Obaidi was later charged with first-degree murder and first-degree attempted murder, accused of killing Garcia Franco and stabbing a woman who tried to stop the attack, critically injuring her, according to the charges filed against him.
Al Obaidi has been held without bail in the King County Jail since then, jail records show. The charges filed against him don’t include a possible motive but note Garcia Franco and Al Obaidi were business associates.
The murder and conspiracy charges filed against Garcia Franco’s wife, 41-year-old Sahar Osama Fadaak, indicate she was in a romantic relationship with Al Obaidi, and she told at least one person she planned to leave her husband.
The charges say Fadaak bought a one-way ticket and boarded a flight to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) with her 2-year-old son on Sept. 4, 2019. A $5 million warrant has been issued for her arrest, though her whereabouts are unknown, court records show.
The UAE is not included on a list of countries that have extradition treaties with the United States posted on the U.S. State Department’s website.
“The evidence demonstrates that the conspiracy and the murder were motivated by financial gain and a romantic relationship between Fadaak and Al Obaidi,” Senior Deputy Prosecutor Jason Simmons wrote in the charges, noting Fadaak attempted to take out a life-insurance policy on her husband days before his death.
“During the killing, Fadaak stood by in silence as she watched her lover Al Obaidi brutally stab her husband to death mere feet away,” Simmons wrote. “Immediately after her husband’s murder, Fadaak shared a casual conversation with Al Obaidi. Al Obaidi then fled the scene of the murder and called Fadaak a few minutes later.”
Walter Peale, Al Obaidi’s defense attorney, did not immediately return a phone call Wednesday seeking comment about the case. Al Obaidi’s trial was supposed to begin next month, but on Wednesday, it was continued until January because the defense is still conducting witness interviews and obtaining experts, court records show.
According to the charges filed against Fadaak:
Following Al Obaidi’s arrest, Kirkland police detectives worked to reconstruct the months before Garcia Franco’s death and obtained cell phones, phone records, email and social media accounts and interviewed several people, including the woman who survived the stabbing and identified Al Obaidi as the man who attacked her and Garcia Franco.
The detectives learned Fadaak and Garcia Franco had been involved in a domestic dispute in October 2018 and a month later, Fadaak rented an apartment in Bellevue, which she kept until at least the time of her husband’s killing. She sometimes met Al Obaidi at the apartment, where she stayed off and on until April 2019, when she moved back in with Garcia Franco. They lived in a split-level house in the 12900 block of 131st Avenue Northeast.
Garcia Franco, Fadaak and their son mostly lived on the upper floor of the house, and a woman and her three children lived on the lower level.
In January 2019, Fadaak met Al Obaidi and his wife through a child care program her son was enrolled in, and the three became friends; sometime after that, Garcia Franco and Al Obaidi began working together. The woman who lived on the lower level of Garcia Franco’s house worked for both men after she moved to Kirkland from California in March 2019.
Cell phone records showed that communication between Fadaak and Al Obaidi gradually increased, and that by April and May 2019, they were communicating with each other more than they were with their respective spouses, the charges say.
On May 17, 2019, Fadaak sent Al Obaidi the building code for her Bellevue apartment, and the next day, Garcia Franco confronted his wife about her suspected infidelity. On May 22, Fadaak began researching life-insurance policies for her husband. She attempted to purchase a $250,000 policy but was told Garcia Franco couldn’t be insured because he wasn’t a U.S. citizen.
On May 30, 2019, Fadaak and Al Obaidi met at the Bellevue apartment, and after parting ways around noon, they remained in phone contact throughout the day until a little after 11 p.m., which the charges say is when Garcia Franco went to bed. Fadaak later cleared those calls from her phone log, the charges say.
Garcia Franco was asleep in bed when he was attacked around 2 a.m. on May 31, 2019. The charges say police found no evidence of forced entry and believe the door was left unlocked for his assailant.
The woman who lived on the lower level was woken up by her children and alerted to the sounds of a commotion upstairs. She went to investigate and pulled a man she later identified as Al Obaidi off of Garcia Franco, and was then stabbed herself.
Garcia Franco ran from the room but collapsed in the hallway and his attacker stabbed him several more times before turning his attention back to the woman.
The woman’s 15- and 17-year-old children each called 911 and Fadaak placed a third call to 911. Garcia Franco died at the scene.
When officers arrived, the injured woman and her children were outside the residence and the woman was taken to Seattle’s Harborview Medical Center in critical condition. Fadaak and her son were found hiding in the pantry.
The woman who was stabbed later told detectives Fadaak watched quietly as Al Obaidi stabbed Garcia Franco and said after the woman begged Fadaak to tell Al Obaidi to stop stabbing her, Fadaak did so and he complied. Fadaak and Al Obaidi then had a conversation in Arabic.
The woman told detectives Fadaak didn’t scream or try to stop the attack on her husband and at no point did Al Obaidi physically harm Fadaak.
Cell phone records showed Al Obaidi called Fadaak twice within a half hour of Garcia Franco’s killing but those calls went unanswered.
Kirkland police interviewed Fadaak twice on May 31, 2019: In the first interview, she told detectives she was sleeping in her son’s room across from the master bedroom and was awakened by her husband’s screams. Police say she claimed she closed and sat against the door of her child’s bedroom. She did not mention seeing who had attacked her husband.
During her second interview, she “acted in disbelief that Al Obaidi had been arrested for the murder,” say the charges. Detectives attempted to interview her a third time, but she invoked her right to an attorney and declined to speak with investigators. She later fled the U.S., the charges say.