Wael Ali was the last person who saw his twin brother alive, police say, and following Wasel Ali's August 2007 death, Wael acted out of character and gave police inconsistent statements every time they spoke with him.
Now Wael Ali is behind bars in Howard County, accused of killing his twin brother in Columbia.
Ali was arrested Sept. 15 in Cobb County, Ga., where he was a student, and charged in the slaying of his brother. He was extradited to Maryland last week and is being held without bail in the Howard County Detention Center in Jessup. He is scheduled for a preliminary court hearing Tuesday, Oct. 4.
There was no specific turning point in the investigation that led to the warrant being issued four years after the death, according to Sherry Llewellyn, spokeswoman for the Howard County Police Department. Rather, she said, it was a culmination of information and evidence gathered over time.
Wael Ali, 23, is facing one count of first-degree murder. He and Wasel were 19 when the 2006 Wilde Lake High School graduate was found dead from a neck injury, his body badly decomposed on a secluded dirt path behind the 12000 block of Green Meadow Drive, in Hickory Ridge.
While police do not point to any recent development that led to the arrest, charging documents released Friday, Sept. 23 reveal why investigators focused their attention on the person who had been asking friends for help finding his missing brother. The documents disclose the following information:
The Ali brothers had their troubles. Like many siblings, they would get angry with each other. Their arguments would get physical, though, and they would grab and choke each other, friends told police.
Wasel was the passive one of the two, friends said. Wael was aggressive and dominating and he was the more likely brother to "blow up" and lose his temper.
Together, they had been in legal trouble twice in 2007. Wael and Wasel had recently joined the Army, but had gone absent without leave after boot camp. They had been accused of stealing a federal government vehicle and keeping it in their garage. When they took it out for a ride, they impersonated police officers and pulled people over, the charging documents say, and they also had stolen a government handgun.
They were arrested in February. Both pleaded guilty in July to one count of carrying a concealed weapon and were sentenced to probation before judgment. The other charges were dropped.
A similar case out of Arlington County, Va., in which the brothers were accused of having a stolen handgun and impersonating a police officer, prompted Howard police to search the brothers' home on Warm Granite Drive, in Long Reach, Aug. 22.
Missing 25 minutes
That same day, Wasel was called in to his job at Banana Republic at the Columbia mall. Wael drove Wasel there.
Upon arriving at work, Wasel was accused of stealing $1,300 worth of clothing from the store. Wasel admitted to the theft and also implicated Wael. Wasel told them he would pay restitution. He was fired, then he left.
Wael would later tell police that he was angry at Wasel, partially because of issues from the previous year, but also their legal troubles in Virginia, their house being searched by police and Wasel admitting to stealing from work.
Their father sent Wael back to the mall to pick up Wasel. They were seen together on video at a kiosk, then left the mall from different ends of the building.
About an hour later, Wael arrived at a friend's home. That friend told police that Ali was frantic, panicking, freaking out and crying about Wasel being missing. Others Wael called described him in similar terms, which they said was out of character for him.
Wael sought help finding Wasel, telling one friend that he had already been to the spot near Green Meadow Drive where Wasel's body would eventually be found, a place the brothers had often gone to as children, friends said. Wael told friends over the next five days to search that area, saying he felt something was wrong there.
Police said there were 25 minutes on the day of the death during which Wael Ali's whereabouts were unaccounted for: from the moment he was seen driving past Macy's at the mall to the time he made a phone call.
Investigators traveled what they presumed to be Wael's path, driving around to the restaurant where Wasel had been seen on video, then driving to the parking lot near where Wasel's body was found. The detectives walked down the path to the crime scene, staying there for a few minutes — long enough, they believed, for Wasel to have been assaulted and killed.
They then drove toward the brothers' home on Warm Granite Drive, passing a cell phone tower near Route 175 and Tamar Drive. It took detectives 25 minutes to get to that tower.
Wael Ali had made numerous phone calls after leaving the mall, all to Wasel's girlfriend. He said later that he wanted to tell her that Wasel was missing. That first call was sent via the tower on Tamar Drive — about 25 minutes after Wael had driven past Macy's.