It was by all accounts, a minor fender bender on the 401 in April 2004. But its implications would be anything but trivial. Within seconds, the vehicle burst into flames. Once doused, police found the charred remains of a woman inside. She has yet to be identified.
Five years later, her body remains in the city morgue, and a man is in custody, but murder charges have never been laid despite the fact that forensic tests revealed the woman died before the car accident and subsequent fire.
“There have been twists and turns through the investigation at every corner,” admits detective Greg Groves. “The more information that came to light, the more questions, and the more the mystery deepened.”
There have, however, been some answers.
As Groves reveals, initially, “there was seemingly no reason why that car burst into flames.”
A further investigation revealed that the interior of the car was doused with gasoline.
Detectives now believe the fire was set in an attempt to dispose of the body.
Three years ago the man in the car with mystery victim, Suimi Habteab, was convicted of arson and indignity to a body. But with much of the evidence up in flames, detectives, despite their suspicions, haven’t been able to lay murder charges, and are still trying to confirm the victim’s identity.
“Mr. Habteab has been less than truthful,” states Groves. “He has not assisted in this investigation.”
Habteab first claimed the victim was his wife, Stephanie Fratta, mother of his daughter, Ramilla.
Detectives found a video in his apartment showing a woman and child visiting a Zoo in his native Eritrea.
They also found a marriage certificate and other videos.
“Names that he has provided, there are no records of these people entering the country,” Groves continues. “No record of them entering the United States, and we are unable to get confirmation from authorities that they even exist.”
Habteab then said it was a woman named Faniey Buruhan. He also mentioned the name Huberhit Temasgen. All have proven to be false leads.
Dental examinations confirmed little, aside from the fact that the victim had dental work done in Europe.
“There must be someone out there missing a daughter, missing a mother, a sister, an aunt,” Groves reasoned.
Investigators want to speak to anyone who knows Suimi Habteab or the true identity of the woman seen in the home videos (included below).