Police: Kidnap suspect may have hurt missing boy

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HARRISBURG – The man suspected of kidnapping a missing 7-month-old boy may have injured the child a few days before he disappeared, police said Wednesday.


Upper Darby Police Chief Michael Chitwood said investigators also think Ummad Rushdi, 30, had second thoughts about how he first disposed of the child’s body near Columbia, leading him to retrieve his remains.


Chitwood said the mother of Hamza Ali said that Rushdi, who was her boyfriend, locked Hamza in a closet and put him alone in a wooded area behind their home in the York suburbs because the child was crying.


“She said that three or four days before the baby disappeared, she feels that he may have caused damage to the baby’s shoulder or arm from handling him the way he handled him,” Chitwood said.


Hamza has been missing since Aug. 4, when police say Rushdi took him from a home in Upper Darby. Police said Rushdi’s brother Jawwad Rushdi said Rushdi told him he shook Hamza to death, then buried him in an undisclosed location.


Jawwad Rushdi is “still being cooperative,” Chitwood said. “He claims he doesn’t know where the body is (and) if he did know where the body is, he’d tell us.”


Chitwood disclosed new details about the second burial.


“The information we have is that he buried the baby, he clothed the baby in some type of white garment,” then performed a Muslim rite, Chitwood said. “He will not tell anyone where that baby is currently buried.”


Investigators were searching Wednesday at a landfill near York and planned also to look for the child at Hain Park, south of York.


“Everywhere we’ve been, we’ve had reasonable suspicion to be there,” Chitwood said.


Delaware County Prison said Wednesday that Rushdi remained jailed there on kidnapping and other charges, with bail set at $750,000.


Rushdi’s lawyer has not returned calls seeking comment.


Also Wednesday, police revealed in a court filing that they collected a small shovel, two pickaxes, computer equipment and other items during a Tuesday search of Rushdi’s home.


The search produced eight computers, three cellphones, an address book, documents, a stain on a wall, a stained towel and a pair of black shoes.


Police have said search dogs, brought to Columbia because that’s where Rushdi apparently got his brother’s car stuck on Sunday, led them to a pillowcase that the girlfriend, Zainab Gaal, identified as belonging to Rushdi.


Gaal and Rushdi were not legally married, but they did have some type of ceremony in the York house, Chitwood said.


The chief plans a news conference about the case Thursday in York. If the child is not found by Friday, the active search may be shut down, he said.


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