Essex Police have said that a house fire that killed Dr Sabah Usmani and her five children in Harlow last month is now being treated as a murder investigation.
In a fresh appeal on the BBC's crimewatch programme last night, detectives described the case as tragic and unprecedented for the force.
They asked for information about a laptop stolen in a burglary that took place at the house that night, as well as appealing for witnesses who were in the area at the time to come forward.
– Senior Investigating Officer Det Supt Rob Vinson
"This is now a murder investigation we believe that someone burgled the house and then caused a fire that took the lives of six innocent people. Someone knows something about this incident and for whatever reason has not come forward to tell police what they saw or know. Please search your conscience for the sake of those five young children and their mother. This is an unprecedented case in the history of Essex Police and we will do everything we can solve this tragedy.
"Dr Shakoor has had to find the strength to cope with this terrible tragedy. No one can imagine the pain of losing your whole family in such a horrible way. I need to find answers. I need the public to tell me what happened on that night.”
It was the early hours of Monday, October 15 that the fire was discovered by Dr Abdul Shakoor at his home in Barn Mead, and he battled hard to save his family, suffering the effects of the dense smoke and minor burns as he tried to get them out. At the same time as fire crews were tackling the fierce fire in the family’s home there was also a Ford Focus car alight in a parking area nearby.
Dr Shakoor’s wife, 44 year-old Dr Usmani, daughter Hira, 12, and sons Muneeb, 9 and six-year old Rayyan sadly died at the scene. Another son, 11 year old Sohaib, died a short time after arrival at hospital as doctors from Princess Alexandra Hospital, where his father worked as a well respected doctor, tried valiantly to save his life.
Three year old Maheen was taken with her father to hospital. She was later transferred to the specialist burns unit at Broomfield Hospital, Chelmsford where sadly she died a few days before her fourth birthday.