Her Father Had a Theory About Her Killing. Then Came the Arrest.


When Ola Salem’s body was discovered in a park on Staten Island in October 2019, her friends and relatives were left grasping for an explanation.

Ms. Salem, 25, was known as a dedicated advocate at the domestic violence shelter for Muslim women and children where she volunteered, and suspicion in local media focused on her husband, with whom the police said she had a tumultuous relationship.

Her father offered another theory: Kabary Salem told The New York Times that his daughter had shared stories of being followed by someone on the highway.

But authorities now say that tip was a lie intended to misdirect investigators, and it was Mr. Salem who killed his daughter, dragged her body into Bloomingdale Park and covered it with branches. Mr. Salem, 52, appeared virtually in court this week to face a seven-count indictment, with charges including murder, strangulation and concealment of a human corpse.

He pleaded not guilty, court records show. A lawyer for Mr. Salem could not be reached for comment this week.

Officials said that despite Mr. Salem’s statements to reporters, he had been considered a suspect in his daughter’s death.

“Throughout the course of this tragic case, we had never lost hope that the alleged killer would be arrested and charged,” Michael E. McMahon, the Staten Island district attorney said in a statement. “We will continue to work tirelessly to hold this defendant accountable.”


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