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Four Somali siblings mourned, laid to rest

Wrapped in white sheets, the bodies of slain Louisville children Goshany, Khadija, Fatuma and Sidi Ali lay on a table yesterday in the Islamic Center parking lot in Elizabethtown as a group of men prayed that they be delivered to heaven. (By David C. Burton, Special to The Courier-Journal)

Judge orders father held without bail

By Andrew Wolfson
[email protected]
The Courier-Journal

Wrapped head to toe in white sheets that seemed to emphasize their innocence, the tiny bodies easily fit side by side, two to a gurney.

The children -- Goshany, Khadija, Fatuma and Sidi Ali, ages 2 to 8 -- were then placed on a folding table in the parking lot of a mosque in Elizabethtown yesterday for their funeral.

Facing east, 40 men stood under a sparkling October sky and prayed to Allah that the children would be delivered to heaven, while a smaller group of women dressed in colorful robes and shawls stood separately, many with eyes red from crying.

Then the bodies, each tagged with a name and date of birth, were driven a few miles north to an unnamed Muslim cemetery in Radcliff, where they were lowered into separate graves and covered with dirt.

There was no mention of the children's father, Said Biyad, 42, a Somali immigrant who earlier yesterday was arraigned in Louisville on four counts of murder for allegedly stabbing each of them to death Friday.

Attorney Jay Lambert represented Said Biyad at his arraignment in Louisville yesterday. Biyad, 42, is accused of killing his four children after an argument with their mother. (By Michael Hayman, The Courier-Journal) 

Wearing an orange jail jumpsuit, Biyad stood silently, his head down, and faced Jefferson District Judge Jacquelyn Eckert, who ordered him held without bail because he is charged with capital offenses.

Eckert set a bond hearing for Oct. 17 and ordered that Biyad have no contact with his wife, Fatuma Amir, a Somali immigrant who is the children's mother. Biyad allegedly assaulted her Friday.

A spokeswoman for University Hospital said yesterday that the family requested that no information be released about Amir.

Biyad's appointed counsel, public defender Jay Lambert, said the order was unnecessary.

"Frankly, Mr. Biyad is not going anywhere anytime soon," Lambert said.

The children died of multiple sharp-force injuries, Deputy Coroner Gayle Norris said yesterday. She declined to say where they had been stabbed, citing an open police investigation.

The four were found dead Friday morning in their Iroquois Homes apartment after their father went to police and said he had killed his family. Police believe the stabbings followed an argument between Biyad and his estranged wife over the children.

Dwight Mitchell, a Louisville Metro Police spokesman, said that the youngest child, Goshany, 2, a girl, was not attending school yet and that Khadija, 4, another girl, was in the preschool program at Dawson Orman Education Center.

Sidi, 8, a boy, and Fatuma, 7, a girl, attended Stonestreet Elementary School. Principal Carol Bartlett said they were "sweet, loving, precious children" and "will be missed as part of our school community."

Citing privacy concerns, she would not say what grade they were in, but she said they were learning all their subjects well.

"I could not have gone to another country and done as well as they did," Bartlett said.

She said their teachers have been too upset to talk about them.

When students return to school Wednesday, grief counselors will be present to help them, she said. Counselors also will be at the school tomorrow when teachers return, Bartlett said.

Atif Aftab carried the body of one of the children at a Muslim cemetery in Hardin County. Yesterday's ceremony in Elizabethtown and Radcliff followed Muslim customs; there were no coffins. (Photos by David C. Burton, Special to The Courier-) 

Following Muslim customs, yesterday's ceremony was held outside and there were no coffins, said Imam Mohamed Lunat of the Islamic Center in Elizabethtown.

The men removed their shoes and stood in their socks or bare feet in the parking lot as Lunat led them through Janazah, a prayer for the dead.

The family did not pray at that mosque but decided to hold the funeral there in part because Lunat had befriended members of Louisville's Somali community and because the burial sites were donated, he said.

Lunat said mourners he spoke to seemed to have little hostility toward Biyad.

"Africans are very tolerant, patient people," he said. "They feel quite sad but there is no anger or questioning. As Muslims they accept that certain things happen, as a part of their faith."

Reporter Andrew Wolfson can be reached at (502) 582-7189.