Arraignment of El Cajon Man Accused of Killing Wife Postponed, Court Lacked Chaldean Interpreter

EL CAJON (CNS) – An East County man accused of stabbing his wife to death in their apartment last weekend was charged Wednesday with murder.

Arraignment for Salem Zora, 47, was postponed until tomorrow because a Chaldean interpreter was not available. Zora, who remains jailed without bail, faces 26 years to life in prison if convicted, according to prosecutors.

Zora made an emergency call shortly before 8 p.m. Sunday, telling a dispatcher he had returned to his rental residence on Roanoke Road in El Cajon to find that his wife, 39-year-old Gankil Wijdan, was not breathing, according to police. Medics tried in vain to revive the woman before pronouncing her dead at the scene.

While questioning the victim’s husband, detectives noted “several inconsistencies” in his account of the circumstances of her death, Lt. Mike Moulton said. Zora was arrested early Monday morning and booked into the San Diego Central Jail.

Authorities released no suspected motive for the slaying.

Sandra Hoffmann, manager of the apartment complex where the couple lived, told news crews she was “shocked” by Wijdan’s death and Zora’s arrest.

“They are a fantastic couple,” Hoffmann said. “That’s all I can say.”

Outside court today, the victim’s nephew, Steven Rofaeel, said he was “very shocked” to hear she had been killed.

“This is the last person you’d ever think to get murdered,” he said. “She’s very loving. She’d always do everything for everyone. Nobody would ever say she was a bad woman.”

Rofaeel said the victim and the defendant had been married about three years.

The day of the murder, the victim told her sister that she couldn’t come to a birthday party as planned because her husband didn’t want her to go, family members said.

“We don’t know why,” the victim’s uncle told reporters.