• Tuesday, May 17, 2022
  • Last Update : 04:24 pm

Six of a Bangladeshi family dead in Texas ‘murder-suicide’

  • Published at 08:36 am April 6th, 2021
The Bangladeshi family in Texas poses for a photograph last Eid in 2020 Collected

A social-media account belonging to Farhan Towhid contained a link to a lengthy letter that presaged the killings

Six members of a Bangladeshi family have died in a case of what appears to be a murder-suicide in Texas after two brothers made a suicide pact that included the deaths of their other relatives.

Police officers responded at about 1am Eastern Time in suburban Dallas, in north Texas, after a family friend reported that someone at the home was suicidal, police said.

When officers arrived, they found the family dead inside the home.

They were identified as Altafun Nessa, 77, Iren Islam, 56, Towhidul Islam, 54, Tanvir Towhid, 21, and Farbin Towhid and Farhan Towhid, both 19. Police said they were two brothers, a sister, their father, and mother, and a grandmother. 

Police believe the brothers killed their family members before killing themselves.

“Apparently two brothers made an agreement to commit suicide and ended up taking the entire family with them,” police spokesman Sergeant Jon Felty said.

A social-media account belonging to Farhan Towhid contained a link to a lengthy letter that presaged the killings.

In the letter, the brothers said they both were clinically depressed and hoped to spare their family any grief over their suicides by taking their lives first by shooting them before killing themselves.

Police believe two brothers Tanvir Towhid and Farhan Towhid gun down their parents, sister, and grandmother (not in the picture) before killing themselves on Saturday, April 3, 2021 | Twitter

Farhan's post also mentioned battling with depression since 2016 and his being unhappy with how the TV show “The Office” ended and how easy it was for Tanvir to purchase a gun.

He also added that “the only reason for existence is happiness,” and that he shouldn't live if he's not happy.

According to the note, Farhan wrote: “They would spend the rest of their lives feeling guilt, despair...I could just do them a favour and take them with me.”

The two boys were students of the University of Texas and their sister, Farbin, had a full scholarship to New York University.

Investigation going on

Friends say they knew Farhan had previously cut himself. Police said there were no records of any problems at the home and an investigation was going on.

A mass killing where two siblings are the perpetrators was rare, James Alan Fox, a criminologist at Northeastern University, told US News.

“In these situations, mass killings, it’s usually one perpetrator,” he said.

"I've been here 21 years in Allen (northern Dallas). We have never had an incident like this in the 21 years that I've been here. So, as you can imagine, it's just a tragedy. There's no other way to describe it," Sergeant Felty said. 

‘I couldn’t breathe’ 

Stunned neighbours, family friends and several members of the Bangladesh Association of North Texas gathered throughout the day as investigators, wearing protective gear, walked in and out of the house.

“The family was a very nice and happy family. They were always making fun of everything. We don’t understand this,” said family friend Deelra Hassan. 

“We are very shocked. Very shocked.”

Shawn Ahsan said he tried calling Towhidul on Sunday and was a little worried when he didn’t hear back from him. He heard the news of the deaths from a friend on Monday morning.

“I said, ‘You gotta be kidding me,’ ” he said. “I couldn’t breathe for 20 minutes, to be honest with you. I was crying in my office.”

Police believe that the incident happened sometime on Saturday. 

‘Ideal Bangladeshi family’

Hashmat Mobin, another family friend, told local journalists: “Towhidul came to the US on a Diversity Immigrant Visa (DV) about 22 years ago. He was born and raised in old Dhaka.” 

He and his family were in New York for the first two years. They moved to Texas 20 years ago. Although he initially worked in the IT sector, Towhidul was recently working in a good position at Citibank.

Mobin said one of Iren’s brothers lives in New York. After receiving the news, he left for Texas. Similarly, Towhidul’s brother, who lives in Miami, is on his way to Texas.

Mobin said he knew the family through various community events. People close to him knew Towhidul’s family as an ideal Bangladeshi family.

Relatives mourn

Towhidul was married to Iren of Pabna about 25 years ago. Iren moved her mother Altafun Nessa from Pabna to Dallas two years ago.

“My mother (Altafun) had been scheduled to come back to Bangladesh today (April 7) but wasn’t able to travel because of Covid-19,” Abul Kalam Azad Hiron, the youngest son of the deceased Altafun, told Dhaka Tribune.

Mourning for the family began after news of the deaths reached their homes in Pabna on Tuesday morning.

Relatives and neighbours have been crowding Altafun’s Pabna house since morning at the news of the sudden deaths in the family. The environment turned heavy due to their crying. 

Calling such deaths mysterious, they also demanded a proper investigation. 

Relatives told Dhaka Tribune, “Farhan and Tanvir were talented since childhood. There were no crises in the family. No one can believe that they committed suicide by killing everyone in the family out of frustration.”

Arifur Rahman Alpha, the eldest son of the deceased Altafun, said, “My sister (Iren) used to take care of not only her family but also us. There was never any dissension in her family. The kids were also talented and polite. They took care of their parents as well as their grandmother (Altafun). I can't believe that such boys have killed everyone in the house.”

“My request to the Bangladesh government is to make arrangements for a proper investigation,” Hiron said.

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