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Harlow fatal fire: Police hope Facebook appeal will encourage residents to come forward

Detectives investigating the murder of six members of a family in Harlow hope that a new Facebook appeal will reach out to someone who knows what happened.

Dr Abdul Shakoor's wife and five children died after a fire at their home in Barn Mead, Harlow on Monday, October 15, 2012.

Evidence from fire scientists has indicated that the likely cause of the fatal fire was malicious ignition and detectives are treating the deaths of Dr Sabah Usmani and her children as murder.

Detectives know that there was a burglary at the house on the same evening/early morning of the fire and are re-appealing for information and witnesses.

Photo: Dr Shakoor's family

Det Supt Rob Vinson, who is leading the murder investigaton, said: “As Dr Abdul Shakoor has to face the holiday season for the first time without his beloved wife Dr Sabah Usmani and children Hira, Sohaib, Muneeb, Rayyan and youngest Maheen, I hope someone’s conscience will lead them to pick up the phone and call detectives or Crimestoppers and tell us the information they know.”

For the first time Essex Police has an advertisement on Facebook that will only appear on the Facebook accounts of people living in Harlow, aged from teenagers to 55 years old.  The advert takes people through to the Essex Police Facebook page and a renewed appeal for information.

Crimestoppers charity is offering a reward of up to £10,000 for information and The Sun newspaper is also offering the same reward. 

The questions detectives want answers to are:

  • Have you heard people talking about the fire?  Do you know anything that will help?

  • Do you know anything about the burglary at the house?

  • There was at least one teenager on a bike in Barn Mead at the time of the fire. Was that you, do you know who it was?

  • Do you know anything about burglaries in three other roads or a car fire in Broadfields?

  • Two petrol cans were found in Barn Mead two days after the fire, do you know anything?

  • The laptop bag and Toshiba two-pin power lead, stolen in the burglary, were found near St Michael’s Close and Whitewaits.  How did they get there?

  • Have you been offered a Toshiba Satellite laptop since the fire?

Det Supt Vinson added:  “We have a large, dedicated team of officers and staff working on Operation Shakespeare.  This is one of the biggest and most complex investigations in Essex Police’s history.  I need the public to come forward with information, either anonymously through Crimestoppers, or by phoning 01277 266869, or emailing

"Dr Shakoor is a dignified, private man who is grieving for his family in what is the most unimaginably difficult circumstances.  If you know something, please call.”


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