The husband of a woman who was fatally shot on a Boonton street earlier this week and a female aquaintance of his have been charged with first-degree murder, the Morris County Prosecutor's Office announced Friday morning.
Kashif Parvaiz, 26, of Brooklyn, N.Y., has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder, two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon, third-degree hindering apprehension or prosecution and second-degree endangering the welfare of a child.
Antoinette Stephen, 26, of Billerica, Mass., has been charged with first-degree murder, first-degree conspiracy to commit murder and two counts of second-degree unlawful possession of a weapon.
The two conspired for a "significant period of time" to allegedly kill Parvaiz's wife, Nazish Noorani, 27, Prosecutor Robert A. Bianchi said.
After releasing limited information regarding the incident the past several days, Bianchi held a news conference Friday morning in Morristown, shedding light on the late-night shooting Tuesday night.
“I am extremely proud of these arrests on many levels," Bianchi said. "The attorneys, detectives and support staff from the Morris County Prosecutor's Office, as well as myself, have been working on this case day and night from its inception, so as to bring some measure of justice to this victim and her family."
According to Bianchi, several 911 calls were placed to the Boonton Police Department, reporting gunshots on the 400-block of Cedar Street Tuesday night just before 11:15 p.m. Officers discovered two individuals who appeared to have each sustained multiple gunshot wounds, Bianchi said.
The couple had been walking with their 3-year-old son a short distance between the homes of relatives in the area.
Noorani was discovered in the roadway opposite the residence located at 408 Cedar St., Bianchi said. The couple's 3-year-old son was found unharmed in his stroller alongside Noorani, Bianchi said. Parvaiz was found across the roadway also in front of 408 Cedar St., Bianchi said.
The prosecutor said Stephen was in Boonton at the time of the crime but was found by authorities in Boston. Bianchi said she is being held on $5 million bail and awaiting extradition to New Jersey.
According to Bianchi, Parvaiz, who has yet to be arraigned, is being held on $1 million bail. Officials will not release his location due to what the prosecutor called "security issues."
Bianchi said investigators suspected the husband in the hours after the murder, despite Parvaiz's early statements blaming the murder on one black male, one white male and a third unknown male who Parvaiz said hurled anti-Muslim epithets such as "terrorist."
Court documents show that Parvaiz's story changed while being interrogated. The papers say he initially told police that he and his wife were shot by "one white man and three black men" who shouted slurs and fled on foot down nearby William Street.
The documents also say that Parvaiz indicated that he had a flight to Boston planned that evening. Family members, however, said he had planned to drive to Boston.
"We want our Islamic community, our brothers and sisters, to be assured that we would never tolerate any bias crime and would stop at nothing to ensure that this community was protected from any form of bias or prejudice," Bianchi said. "After considerable investigative analysis, law enforcement quickly concluded that this was not a bias crime.
"Within hours of the crime, it was obvious to investigators that this was sadly the alleged handiwork of the victim's husband who allegedly did the unthinkable and plotted to murder his wife after a religious celebration."
Bianchi said Parvaiz was arrested two days ago. Officials did not release the information, he said, to preserve the integrity of the investigation and to avoid tipping off other suspects.
"The fact that the victim was celebrating Ramadan, a time dedicated in the Islamic faith to the worthy goals of patience, spirituality, humility and submissiveness to God, made this case especially compelling to us," Bianchi said. "So too, that this matter was allegedly so well thought out, planned, plotted and orchestrated is chilling to say the least."
According to court documents, even as Parvaiz claimed innocence, he allegedly admitted issues existed in his marriage, and that he was angry at his wife for allegedly speaking negatively about his family. Ultimately, the court papers say, he confessed that he made an arrangement with an unnamed party: He would walk outside with his wife and this party would murder Noorani and wound him.
Through an investigation of cell phone records, authorities determined that the unnamed party allegedly was Stephen, according to court documents.
Bianchi said that while Parvaiz was wounded in the incident, none of his injuries were life-threatening.
"I'm sure he felt pain, though," the prosecutor noted.
Court documents say that members of Noorani's family told investigators that Parvaiz was believed to have allegedly physically abused his wife on several occasions in the past and to have allegedly engaged in extramarital affairs.
The papers also note that, according to family members, Noorani had recently sent a text message to her brother saying, "I dont no why to do ... Cant talk to him cuz he abuse me than... He doesn't want to live with me... I dont no kids get scared of him sometimes... Im so tired of this... I dont no im scared... Someday u will find me dead but its cuz of kashi... He wants to kills me. [sic]"
Bianchi said the investigation continues and that more arrests are possible. The prosecutor's office as well as the Boonton Police Department and authorities in New York and Massachusetts are involved in the probe.
"We ask the public's assistance in providing any information that may be relevant to the defendants charge, or this investigation," he said.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the Morris County Prosecutor's Office at 973-285-2900 or the Morris County Sheriff's Office Crime Stopper Program at 973-COP-CALL.
Noorani, a mother of two whose older son, 5, was with relatives at the time of the shooting, was remembered at a funeral service Friday afternoon at the Jam-e-Masjid Islamic Center in Boonton.