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Text raises questions about possible hate crime

The family of a slain Iraqi-American woman flew to Iraq with her body just days after police sought a court order to search their house, cars and electronic devices for clues in the case that generated international outrage amid speculation that her beating death might have been a hate crime.

The husband and two of Shaima Alawadi's five children arrived in Iraq last week, four days after detectives submitted an 11-page search warrant affidavit asking for permission to conduct a broader search of the crime scene.

The court papers say detectives discovered a suspicious text message sent from a cell phone belonging to Alawadi's 17-year-old daughter. The message read: "The detective will find out tell them cnt talk."

In addition, the records say Alawadi wanted to get a divorce and move to Texas, and the daughter was distraught about a pending arranged marriage with a cousin.

The killing of Alawadi, 32, drew international attention after her daughter, Fatima Alhimidi, told reporters she found a note by her mother's unconscious body that read: "Go back to your country, you terrorist." Police have not named any suspects.

Lt. Mark Coit, an El Cajon police spokesman, said Friday the department would not comment on the case. The affidavit was supposed to be sealed and was mistakenly released to the media by San Diego County Superior Court, the court acknowledged in a statement.

While the court papers provide insight into the different leads police are pursuing, searches of the home, cars and phone records don't necessarily mean a family member is a suspect, said Paul Pfingst, a former San Diego County district attorney who is now a defense lawyer.

Court records say detectives also sought evidence of any additional notes or harassing text messages or e-mails.

Police are trying to determine who received the text message sent from Alhimidi's cell phone.