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Man Sentenced to Die For Murdering, Burning Bodies of Ex-Girlfriend’s Father, Sister in Anaheim Hills

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Iftekhar Murtaza Orange County Family Murders

File photo shows Iftekhar Murtaza of Los Angeles. (Credit: Maricopa County Sheriff's Office)

A 30-year-old Van Nuys man was sentenced to death Tuesday for the May 21, 2007 murders of his ex-girlfriend’s father and sister and the attempted murder of her mother.

Iftekhar Murtaza was convicted of two felony counts of murder and attempted murder in 2013 for planning and carrying out the deadly attack after his girlfriend, Shayona Dhanak, broke up with him, according to the Orange County District Attorney’s Office.

The Dhanaks disapproved of the relationship between their 18-year-old daughter and Murtaza in part because they were practicing Hindus and Murtaza was a non-practicing Muslim, prosecutors said. Murtaza allegedly blamed the parents for the break-up believing they had pressured the teenager to end the relationship.

Two months after the break-up, Dhanak’s mother, Leela Dhanak, was found stabbed and beaten on a neighbor’s front lawn after the family’s Anaheim Hills home had been doused with gasoline and set on fire, the release stated.

The burned bodies of Shayona Dhanak’s father and sister, Jaypraykash and Karishma Dhanak were found near a bike trail at Mason Regional Park in Irvine the next day, according to the D.A.’s office.

Murtaza was arrested in Arizona, four days after the murders attempting to board a plane to Bangladesh with a one-way ticket and $11,000 in cash, according to the release.

The investigation later led to the arrests of two accused accomplices.

Co-defendant, 30-year-old Charles Anthony Murphy Jr. of Mission Hills, was found guilty in 2012 in connection with the case. He was sentenced to life in prison without the possibility of parole.

A second co-defendant, 29-year-old Vitaliy Krasnoperov of Hollywood, was currently awaiting a new trial date in the third re-trial of his case.