The apartment building at 17 Carlton Street in Portland where Salim Al Siraj lived. Derek Davis/Staff Photographer

A Portland man charged with murder in his father’s death was losing touch with reality and acting erratically in the months before a worker noticed a suspicious stain seeping out from under the father’s apartment door.

The manager of the apartment complex on Carleton Street called police to perform a wellbeing check Feb. 15 after a worker posting notices on tenant doors reported the stain on the carpet. Inside the apartment, officers found a large amount of blood and the body of Salim Al Siraj, 50. The medical examiner documented dozens of stab wounds and bruises and determined that he had died of organ failure caused by blood loss.

The property manager told police that he had gone back through surveillance footage from the hallway and found that the stain had appeared about 2:15 p.m. on Feb. 10, during a visit from the man’s son, Abdallah Salim Al Siraj, 22, who had caused problems in the building in the past.

In the last footage from the building that showed Salim Al Siraj alive, he could be seen taking out the garbage at about 12:15 p.m. on Feb. 10. About two hours later, the video showed the stain appear and change shape. The son then opened the door briefly, looked at the stain, covered his nose with his shirt and retreated inside.

Al Siraj was in police custody for questioning before midnight Feb. 15, less than 14 hours after police discovered his father’s body.

The son now faces one count of murder, and was expected to be arraigned Monday following his indictment this month. But the appearance was called off because his attorneys said Al Siraj does not understand the court proceedings he faces. He is being held in the intensive mental health unit of Maine State Prison in Warren, his attorneys wrote in court documents.


Determining whether Al Siraj is competent to stand trial is likely to take months. He has already undergone one mental evaluation at the request of his defense team.

Abdallah Salim Al Siraj Photo courtesy of Cumberland County Sheriff’s Office

Details about Abdallah Salim Al Siraj’s erratic behavior and about his presence at the crime scene were contained in an extensive arrest affidavit unsealed this week. The 13-page document describes how people close to Al Siraj noticed a change in his behavior as early as two years ago. People who knew him told police about the complex relationship he had with his father, who they said also struggled with mental health problems and may have been abusive to the family in the past.

The first officers to look inside Salim Al Siraj’s West End apartment immediately saw blood on the walls, furniture and carpet. Inside a bedroom, they saw a motionless hand jutting out from under a pile of clothes, and a detective later discovered blood droplets in the building hallway and in an elevator.

During an autopsy, the state medical examiner documented 18 contusions and between 50 and 60 stab wounds on the elder Al Siraj’s body.

Police believe five days elapsed between when he was killed and when they discovered his body inside the 37-unit affordable housing complex.

In that time, surveillance footage shows Al Siraj returned to the apartment unit several times, sometimes staying for only minutes, other times for hours, according to the affidavit. When they performed a full search of the father’s unit, evidence technicians found supplies that may have been used to clean up the scene, including cleaning-strength vinegar, microfiber towels and maxi pads.


One day before Al Siraj was arrested, a neighbor across the hall told police that someone had left a knife outside his apartment door that had a reddish-brown stain on it. The neighbor gave that kitchen knife to police.

Police also documented how both father and son had become estranged from their family but remained in touch with each other, despite the son’s apparent resentment of his father’s past abusive behavior.

In an interview with detectives, Al Siraj’s mother said she filed for divorce from her ex-husband in 2013 when his mental health began to decline – and that he was not permitted to visit her home or their other children who live with her. Her son had also been living with her until about two years ago, she said, but she forced him to move out when his mental health deteriorated and she began to fear for her safety around him, although he had never hurt anyone in the past.

Al Siraj’s mother told investigators she tried to connect her son with a caseworker but he resisted and said he wanted to deal with his mental health on his own. When he was arrested, Al Siraj was living alone in a bare apartment on Sherman Street paid for by the Portland Housing Authority, said the building’s owner, Rudy Ferrante. Ferrante said police told him his tenant was from Iraq.

“I inherited him as a tenant,” Ferrante said. “I did introduce myself to him, and he looked me in the eye and shook my hand. His English wasn’t good, from what I could tell, but he was very polite. I had gone over to the apartment a couple of times. I had never really gotten complaints about him.”

When police searched the Sherman Street unit they found blood smeared in several rooms.


Other interviews also hinted at the troubled nature of the son’s relationship with his father. A close friend of the son’s said he told her that when he helped give his father a bath, he tried to hold his father’s head under the water. He told her he made the water cold because his father deserved it, she said.

“She believes this stemmed from his father assaulting his mother and due to the history of family abuse,” wrote Portland police detective Andjelko Napijalo. He wrote that the friend also said the son told her “he would hit his father forty-something times for every year he abandoned him. Abdallah often cursed his father but would still hang out with him.”

At times in the past, the younger Al Siraj had acted out, the affidavit said. In March 2021, he was banned from returning to a Portland Street mosque because he brought a knife “for protection.” Elders at the mosque told detectives they suspected he wanted to confront someone who had spoken poorly about his family. A police officer who took the report at the time photographed the knife because he thought he would be dealing with Al Siraj later for stabbing someone.

Then, in July 2021, the younger Al Siraj was a victim of a crime near his building on Sherman Street. Someone had threatened him with a gun, and during a victim interview, a different Portland police officer said Al Siraj was cooperative, coherent and seemed self-sufficient. Al Siraj indicated that he had been exposed to violence as a child, and he became distraught when he spoke about the traumatic episodes in his life.

His attorney, Robert Ruffner, said he plans to dig into his client’s personal history in the months ahead.

“If there are allegations that put the behavior in a different light, it’s an important thing to examine. Without understanding the facts and circumstances, you can’t begin to understand what is or isn’t a defense, and what is or isn’t a mitigating factor, or what is or isn’t important to address and why.”


In the days leading up to his arrest, the younger Al Siraj’s mental state appeared to decline further.

A friend who went to high school with him said he got in touch Feb. 7, three days before the alleged killing, and the two met up by the ocean to talk.

“Abdallah did not appear to be normal,” the detective wrote after speaking with the friend. “He was often shifting subjects and would constantly pray for people. In the past year or so, Abdallah started to talk about magic.”

The day after police believe the killing occurred, two people in the vicinity of Sherman Street had called police to report that a man with a black beard and hair, who looked Middle Eastern, was out walking in the bitter cold, barefoot, without a jacket. Shortly after his father was killed, a neighbor spotted the younger Al Siraj yelling to himself in a foreign language on the street.

On Feb. 15, the day the younger Al Siraj was arrested, police were called to the Oxford Street Shelter after someone spotted him there. He appeared uncoordinated and disheveled and struggled to drink from a water bottle.

In an interview room at the police station, he told detectives that he believed spirits were living in his apartment, that he had “gone crazy,” and that “the spirits had made him do it.” When police asked if he regretted what he had done to his father, Al Siraj said yes.

A detective showed him a photo of his father’s bloodied apartment, according to the affidavit.

“Abdallah looked at the photo and said it was all him, that he did everything,” Napijalo wrote. “Abdallah then kept saying he was a bad person and that his father had done nothing wrong.”

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