New Hampshire

‘We Feel Like Life Stopped Since the Day He Disappeared'

When Zakhia Charabati went missing from Manchester, New Hampshire, his bewildered family searched for months, only to be told months later that his body was found in Methuen, Massachusetts

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The pain is not letting up for the family of Zakhia Charabati.

"We are still grieving. We feel like life stopped since the day he disappeared," said Marie Charabati, Zakhia's sister-in-law said Thursday in her first interview since Charabati disappeared almost one year ago.

"He loved his family. Anyone would ask him for anything, he would take that shirt off his back and give it to him," she said.

Charabati was reported missing from Manchester, New Hampshire, last March after the 52-year-old failed to show up at work for several days. His family said that was very uncharacteristic of him.

"Zak is very consistent and very committed to his work, the type of person who would go on his deathbed to work. He has to be really sick to skip it," his sister-in-law said.

With no sign of him, the family started searching, using Charabati's iPad to track his truck to Lawrence, Massachusetts. Still, there was no trace of Charabati.

"We thought he had an accident. We were calling hospitals and we were calling hotels because his job is driving and the truck was gone, so we thought he was on the road doing his work and probably got into an accident," Marie Charabati said. "Hours become days, and days become weeks and you think it is really happening, we can't find him, what's going on?"

Months later, in July, human remains were found behind a building in Methuen. The next day, the family said, they learned Charabati's body had been found.

"This is an amazing man who doesn't deserve to die like this," Charabati said. "He came from a war country to a civilized country to live the American dream, he did everything the right way, he went to work every day."

Since then, the family has held out hope that someone would be brought to justice. Every day, they say, they grow more frustrated. 

"In our eyes, from day one it was so obvious what was going on, so why are we waiting a year later, and we still don't have an arrest, or a suspect, or anything and that is the frustration," Maria Charabati said

For Charabati's brother, the loss has been very hard.

"I feel frustrated, angry, and hopeless," said Wahib Charabati, as he started to cry. "The most amazing guy. I yell at him, how could you be so nice? How could you be so generous?"

"A lot of questions we don't have answers: why is this happening and how difficult it is," he added.

The New Hampshire attorney general's office declined to comment, citing the ongoing investigation. The Manchester Police Department did not respond to a request for comment on Thursday.

An FBI representative in Boston said the bureau continues to assist the Manchester Police Department but declined further comment, citing the ongoing investigation. 

As they await justice, Charabati's family remembers the good times.

"His smile stays on my face all the time," Marie Charabati said. "He had such a beautiful smile, it was so contagious."

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