What at first appeared to be a tragic accident is now labeled a "coldhearted scheme." Two children, ages 8 and 13, died on April 9, 2015, when the car their father was driving sped off a Los Angeles wharf and sank. Ali Elmezayen, whose window was open, quickly emerged, followed by his domestic partner, Rabab Diab, but their severely autistic children, strapped in the back seat of the 1998 Honda Civic, were pronounced dead once divers freed them. Prosecutors now say it was a double murder planned by Elmezayen, 44, for more than two years, per the Washington Post. In 2012 and 2013, Elmezayen allegedly purchased several accidental death policies providing more than $6 million in coverage for his family, costing him 20% of his annual salary, which was less than $30,000, per a DOJ release. Prosecutors say he even confirmed that claims wouldn't be investigated after two years.
The crash allegedly came two years and 12 days after the last policy was bought, per the AP. "The alleged conduct shocks the conscience," says US attorney Nick Hanna. The problem is that the evidence may not prove murder. Elmezayen, who initially speculated about an "evil inside of me that pushed me to go," later said the car's brakes failed, and saltwater corrosion has made it difficult to determine their condition at the time of the crash, per the AP. Citing insufficient evidence of murder, the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office has instead charged Elmezayen with mail fraud, wire fraud, and aggravated identity theft, alleging he posed as Diab in interactions with insurance companies. Held without bail, Elmezayen faces up to 20 years in prison for each fraud count if convicted. (Cops say a mom's "moment of frustration" led to her toddler's death.)