A Pakistani-American man whose wife was gunned down this week as they pushed their son in a stroller along a suburban street had plotted the killing with another woman, authorities said Friday.
After the shooting, he told police his family had been attacked by a group of men who called them terrorists, suggesting a bias crime.
Kashif Parvaiz, 26, was wounded in the shooting that killed his wife, Nazish Noorani, 27. The couple and their 3-year-old son were on their way to a relative's house in Boonton when shots rang out Tuesday night. The boy was unharmed. The couple's 5-year-old son was with Noorani's family in the house.
Parvaiz and Antoinette Stephen, 26, of Billerica, Mass., both face murder, conspiracy and weapons charges. He also faces child endangerment charges.
The two had exchanged text messages in the days leading up to the shooting, according to an arrest affidavit released by the Morris County Prosecutor's Office.
"You hang in there. Freedom is just around ur corner," read one text sent to Parvaiz from a phone listed to Stephen's father, according to the affidavit.
Later texts from Stephen's number describe driving around the neighborhood to determine the distance to the nearest police station, according to the affidavit. The exchange of texts continued until 2 p.m. on the day of the shooting, authorities said.
The affidavit quotes a text message from Noorani to her brother in which she wrote: "Someday u will find me dead but its cuz of kashi He wants to kill me."
Parvaiz, who is hospitalized, was arrested several days ago, authorities said. He is being held on $1 million bail.
Stephen was arrested Thursday night in Massachusetts. She was arraigned Friday on a fugitive-from-justice charge and was being held without bail in a women's prison in Framingham, Mass. When she might be sent to New Jersey remained unclear.
According to Morris County Prosecutor Robert Bianchi, Parvaiz's accounts of the attack were inconsistent and immediately raised suspicions.
Parvaiz told investigators the couple was attacked by a different combination of black and white males who shouted ethnic slurs, authorities said. In his initial story, the group shouted something about the family being "terrorists," authorities said.
Within hours, Bianchi said, "it was obvious to investigators that this was the work of the victim's husband who allegedly plotted to murder his wife."
Bianchi didn't say whether Stephen and Parvaiz were romantically involved, but investigators wrote in the arrest affidavit that Parvaiz and Noorani had a turbulent relationship. Authorities said Parvaiz met Stephen in Brooklyn, N.Y., and the two discussed murdering Noorani.
Bianchi wouldn't say who pulled the trigger or whether the same person shot both Parvaiz and Noorani.
Noorani was buried Friday after services at an Islamic center in Boonton, a small town about 25 miles west of New York with a large Pakistani population.
"We want to thank the community for being so supportive," family spokesman Danish Iqbal said after the funeral. "We never believed this was a hate crime. This is a fantastic area to live in."