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Sterling Heights

September 1, 2010

Suspect in wife's murder commits suicide in jail

By Cortney Casey
C & G Staff Writer

STERLING HEIGHTS — A Sterling Heights man suspected of fatally stabbing his wife committed suicide Jan. 8 in his Macomb County Jail cell, where he was awaiting trial on murder charges.

Capt. Anthony Wickersham of the Macomb County Sheriff’s Department said jail personnel discovered Mohammed Abdul-Fazal Chowdhury, 22, dead of a neck wound around 4 p.m.

“The guards went in to unlock his cell to allow his roommate back in, and they found him on his bunk with basically a self-inflicted wound,” said. “He slit his throat with a razorblade.”

Wickersham said Chowdhury closed the door of the cell, locking his roommate out in the surrounding pod, and guards were needed to readmit the other man to the unit.

It appeared the suicide had occurred “a short period of time” prior to the discovery of the body, he said, and no foul play is suspected.

“We did an investigation, spoke to everybody, looked at the evidence in the cell, and it didn’t appear anybody could have been there to do that,” said Wickersham. “We’re confident it was self-inflicted.”

Unless circumstances preclude it, prisoners are allowed to purchase disposable plastic razors to shave, or are provided with them if they’re indigent, he said.

“The blades are kind of flimsy: It’s not your top-of-the-line Bic razor,” he said. “Depending on classification, security level, any other type of observation, mental health issues, that type of thing, they’re not allowed to have razors.”

In those cases, prisoners would be briefly given a razor to shave, but closely monitored, with the device confiscated immediately after use, he explained.

Deputies had no reason to believe Chowdhury was suicidal, and while he was classified as “maximum security,” he would have had to have been a classification higher to be forbidden from having a razor, said Wickersham.

“There was no indication during the initial screening or any indication since he’s been here that he needed to be classified other than what he was,” he said.

Chowdhury was accused of stabbing his wife, 25-year-old Suraia Miah, more than 60 times in the face, torso, head and neck, nearly beheading her, on Sept. 28, 2009.

Police responding to a 911 call around 1 a.m. discovered Miah face down in a pool of blood on the kitchen floor of the couple’s apartment near 14 Mile and Dequindre in Sterling Heights.

Officers alleged Chowdhury provided multiple conflicting accounts of the incident, including claims that three intruders murdered Miah or that she killed herself.

Chowdhury’s attorney, Azhar Sheikh, noted that his client, who immigrated to the United States from Bangladesh last spring, had limited English proficiency, which he said might have caused confusion.

An interpreter translated proceedings at 41-A District Court into Bengali for Chowdhury, who was bound over for trial in Macomb County Circuit Court on one count of second-degree murder following a grisly preliminary exam in November.

At the exam, Detective Mary Whiting said Chowdhury chronicled an arranged marriage rife with discord during an interview at the Sterling Heights Police Department.

According to Whiting, Chowdhury said Miah showed him a photograph of her boyfriend, talked of divorce, verbally abused him and implied that their 2-year-old son was not his biological child.

The toddler, who was sleeping in the apartment at the time of the murder, was turned over to Miah’s family after Chowdhury’s arrest.

Police Chief Michael Reese said last fall that Sterling Heights officers had had contact with the couple previously: They responded to a domestic incident at the same apartment in June, though it was strictly a verbal altercation.

Chowdhury’s trial date had been set for March.

Sheikh could not be immediately reached for comment.

Wickersham said he couldn’t recall the last time someone committed suicide at the jail, though occasionally, prisoners have attempted to kill themselves.

“We try to take measures to make sure it doesn’t (happen),” he said. “We don’t like to see it happen, and unfortunately, at times, people do get the opportunity and then do it.”



You can reach C & G Staff Writer Cortney Casey at ccasey@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1046.