Mt. Vernon Register-News


December 14, 2006

Trying to heal the emotional scars

Detective working on 1972 fire case wants to find a way to bring suspects to justice


MT. VERNON — Ever since the fire that changed Aidah Mahmood’s life forever, she’s been trying to find peace.

But that peace never comes.

The scars remain from being burned over more than 80 percent of her body and having 300 skin-graft surgeries. But the scars go much deeper than that.

Because of the injuries caused by the house fire and jumping from a window to try to escape, she describes herself as having a “broken body.” In addition to the damage to her arms and hands, she also suffered a broken hip and back and must take pain killers.

The blood she was given during transfusions to save her life was tainted with hepatitis C, which attacked her pancreas; because of that, her eyesight has dwindled.

She was also left homeless, basically living on the streets after being released from the Shriner’s Cincinnati Burn Center months after the fire.

Her family also scattered.

Mahmood alleges that after the fire, her father had her brothers transported to Jerusalem, where they spent two years so they couldn’t be questioned abut what happened in Mt. Vernon. Her parents moved to Belleville, along with her sisters.

Mahmood tries to block the fire out of her mind, but that’s not easily done.

“My mind tries to shut it out, but it really can’t. I just don’t know how they got away with this,” Aidah said, speaking of her father, Ike Mahmood, and uncle, Mike Mahmood, whom she alleges tried to kill her by setting her on fire while she was sleeping.

Mt. Vernon Police Detective Ken McElroy, the department’s spokesman for the case, said he also can’t fathom that the two men weren’t arrested, because the evidence was there:

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