SAN JOSE — The last Facebook post by the teen is easy to dismiss as typical teen angst.
“(Expletive) yeah to the kids who feel like they’re dying inside but still gather up the strength to roll out of bed, get dressed and leave the house. You are strong and beautiful and worth so much more than you know.”
But after he and his brother were arrested Wednesday in the slaying of their parents, trace bits like this from their social-media profiles and narrow glimpses offered by friends and relatives begin to form a sketch that hints at tension not readily apparent to many who knew the family.
Much is still unknown about the deaths of 59-year-old Golam Rabbi and 57-year-old Shamima Rabbi, who were found dead from gunshots wounds Sunday at their hillside Evergreen home. The discovery was made by relatives who hadn’t heard from the couple for days.
Video courtesy of: ABC7 News
A motive remains unclear; as does when they were killed. Still, there was enough evidence for San Jose police to arrest their sons, a lightning bolt that pierced what was already an inconsolable cloud of mourning.
“We are very shocked,” said Golam Mustakim, a nephew of the Rabbis who credits them with helping his family settle in the United States. “Emotionally, I’m broken right now.”
Hasib Bin Golamrabbi, the couple’s 22-year-old son and a San Jose State student who hadn’t been seen since the killings, was arrested in Tracy. His 17-year-old brother, an Evergreen Valley High School senior whose name is being withheld because he is a minor, was arrested in San Jose after initially being interviewed and released by police.
The case took on a national profile after it was revealed that next to the bodies, someone had scrawled a stomach-turning message: “Sorry my first kill was clumsy.”
Another cryptic message was written on a wall at the crime scene — “I can’t be like you telling a lie … I can’t love someone without telling them.”
Who wrote those messages remains a mystery; San Jose police have revealed few details about the case.
Scant clues remain as to why the brothers are suspects. Some of the teen brother’s schoolmates described him as pessimistic, but not extraordinarily so. There was a sense of surprise among peers that the 17-year-old was still attending school in the wake of his parents’ death; he was on campus Wednesday, hours before he was arrested.
“You would think he wouldn’t be able to function or go to school at all,” one student said.
The older brother, Golamrabbi, exhibits an aspirational air on social media, celebrating in one instance his admission to San Jose State, posting a photo of a dream house and hinting at a romantic crush.
A cousin who did not want to be named out of privacy concerns said she didn’t know of anything that would have caused a conflict between the brothers and their parents.
“The younger brother was quiet. He didn’t speak to anyone much. He had difficulty with social interactions,” she said. “The older one was more social.”
Hasan Rahim, who worshipped with the Rabbis at the Evergreen Islamic Center and knew them for more than 20 years, said nothing appeared to be amiss on the occasions he interacted with the brothers.
“This is the first time really when I came to know that things were not as placid as I thought,” he said. “I never saw any sign of trouble.”
Golam Rabbi was a hunter and owned at least one firearm, Rahim said. He recalled cautioning his friend, ‘Hey you better be careful.’ He laughed and said ‘Oh yeah, I am very careful,’ ” Rahim said.
The younger brother was interviewed by detectives Sunday and released. As recently as Tuesday, he was not identified as a suspect, as detectives sought to locate and question the older Golamrabbi, who also was not formally declared a suspect at the time. Police have not disclosed what led them to identify the sons as their parents’ alleged killers.
Golamrabbi is tentatively scheduled for arraignment Friday afternoon. He is being held without bail in the Santa Clara County Jail while his brother is being held at Juvenile Hall.
Golamrabbi declined a jailhouse interview with this newspaper; court records show he has no adult criminal record in the county.
Golamrabbi hid in an unidentified friend’s closet in Tracy for 24 hours and confessed to shooting his father, according to KPIX 5, which interviewed the friend. The friend said he was scared and helped Golamrabbi, and called police after he left.
The Rabbis were well respected in the local Bangladeshi and Islamic communities, active at both the Islamic center and with the South Bay Islamic Association. They immigrated to the United States in the 1980s; Golam Rabbi worked as a quality-assurance engineer and Shamima Rabbi, who earned her degree from San Jose State, was an accountant for several large companies.
“For all purposes, I saw him to be a very humble, polite person just like his wife. They seemed to be normal people like the rest of us. There didn’t seem to be any outward sign of any kind of trouble,” Rahim said. “It’s a huge loss.”
East Side Union High School District Superintendent Chris Funk confirmed that the 17-year-old attends Evergreen and his brother was a graduate.
“It’s just a tragic incident, and we’re mourning with the community,” he said.
Attention now turns to laying the Rabbis to rest: The Janaza, or funeral prayer, is scheduled for Friday at the Muslim Community Association in Santa Clara and burial is planned at the Five Pillars Cemetery in Livermore. Religious custom calls for a prompt burial, but initial plans were held up because the Santa Clara County Medical Examiner-Coroner’s Office was allowed to release the victims only to their adult son. Relatives will now take custody of the Rabbis’ remains.
“Everyone is in shock, but we are desperately looking for some closure,” Rahim said. “The fact that we can offer the final prayer for them gives us some kind of spiritual consolation.”
Staff writers Mark Gomez and Sharon Noguchi contributed to this report.