Family increases reward for information about son's murder

Staff WriterApril 18, 2007 

— Seven years have passed since a neighbor found Usama Mahmoud Husein shot to death and face down in a ditch just a few feet from his family's North Raleigh home.

But the tall, friendly Millbrook High School student's killer remains free.

Today, Husein's family will announce that it is increasing the reward offered for information leading to the arrest and conviction of those responsible for his death. The reward will more than double, from $20,0000 to $50,000, said Phyllis Stephens, a sheriff's spokeswoman.

"They are serious," Stephens said.

Mahmoud, 16, was shot several times, his body found the morning of April 14, 2000, on Presnell Court in Stone Creek, an upscale subdivision where he lived with his parents. Stunned neighbors described the neighborhood as a haven where residents rarely used burglar alarms or even bothered to lock their doors.

Sheriff's deputies thought the shooting occurred the night before. The sheriff's office had received a call between 11:30 p.m. and midnight reporting shots fired on nearby Mount Vernon Church Road, about 200 feet away through a slice of woods from where Husein's body was found.

Deputies responded to the call but did not find anything, the sheriff's office reported.

Sheriff's deputies discovered several shell casings from a rifle in the cul-de-sac in front of the teen's house, and his cell phone was found close to his body.

Investigators ruled out robbery as a motive after finding jewelry in his possession, but they were unable to establish a motive for the crime, Stephens said.

One possibility is that Husein's death was connected to an incident nearly eight months earlier that left him facing felony burglary and assault charges. Husein and two other teens were charged with using a baseball bat to beat a man trying to keep them out of a house party, according to court records.

Stephens said sheriff's investigators could not discuss the charges because they occurred when Husein was a juvenile.

Stephens said the family and deputies are hoping the bolstered reward and the passage of time will encourage someone familiar with the shooting to come forward.

"A lot of his friends were very young, and his former friends were reluctant to talk," Stephens said. "Some of them may have kids now and could use the money."

Staff writer Thomasi McDonald can be reached at 829-45333 or thomasi.mcdonald@newsobserver.com.

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