At 11 p.m. on July 13, 1995, Yolanda Panek and her 2-year-old son checked into the Capri Motel in the 1500 block of Northeast 83rd Street in Portland, Ore. At 7 a.m. the following morning, Panek’s 1994 Dodge Spirit was located near a Greyhound bus station. The car was locked but her son was inside, alive and unharmed. Panek was nowhere to be found.
When police searched the car, they discovered blood in the trunk and interior of the vehicle. Later that morning, the motel’s maid entered Panek’s second-floor room and found it in disarray. The beds were missing their sheets, the towels were missing, and one of the mattresses was soaked in blood. Investigators called to the scene found blood on the sidewalk outside Panek’s room. They also found the bed’s missing sheets, also covered in blood, in the hotel dumpster. A piece of cut electrical cord from the room was in the dumpster, as were Panek’s shoes, socks, and tank top.
Less than a week later, Panek’s common-law husband, Abdur Rashid Al-Wadud, was in police custody and charged with murder. He had fled to his mother’s home in East Palo Alto, Calif., but was extradited back to Oregon for trial. Panek had filed a restraining order against Al-Wadud, claiming he was physically abusive and had attempted to strangle her. The order also stated he told Panek he would slit her throat because she refused to raise their son in the Muslim faith. Al-Wadud was convicted of Panek’s murder in May 1996. However, Panek’s body has never been found and Al-Wadud maintains his innocence.