PROJECT COLD CASE: JSO searching for man and woman connected to 1999 stabbing death of Jacksonville business owner

Search for a killer

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Attacked in his own home and stabbed to death: That’s what the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office said happened to local father and business owner, Saad Kawaf.

Almost 21 years later, his killers are still on the run.

JSO is not only searching for a man but also his female accomplice.

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Kawaf was a 41-year-old Syrian immigrant who owned Forest Discount Food Store near Beach Boulevard.

On May 17, 1999 around 9:30 a.m., his life was violently taken inside his Deerwood home.

JSO Detective Margaret Rhatigan has now taken over the case.

“Mrs. Kawaf heard a scream coming from the garage. She went out to the garage to see what was going on,” Rhatigan said.

She saw her husband struggling with a man, but the suspect wasn’t alone.

“She then noticed a female also standing in the garage and when they caught eye that’s when the female attacked her,” Rhatigan said.

Kawaf was stabbed multiple times. His wife was hurt but survived.

The suspects then went inside the home and stole an undisclosed amount money.

Kawaf owned the Forest Discount Food Store on Forest Boulevard near Beach Boulevard. It still has the same name today.

By all accounts, he was living out his American dream.

Police believe his successful business and frequent routines may have made him a target.

“He went to the bank several times a week, made deposits,” Rhatigan said.

JSO submitted DNA and other evidence to be tested but so far, no suspects have been identified.

“They’re out there but they’re just flying under the radar,” Rhatigan said.

Kawaf’s loss has been traumatizing to his family.

Ryan Backmann, Founder and Executive Director of Project: Cold Case (has been in close contact with one of his relatives who wasn’t able to speak with Action News Jax Wednesday.

“They’re super excited that this case is getting the attention that it deserves,” Backmann said.

A neighbor spotted a red Jeep Cherokee leaving the home at the time of crime.

Kawaf’s wife was able to give good descriptions of the suspects, enough for a sketch of the female.

She’s described as white, wearing a skirt, skinny, blonde, about 5 feet 2 inches or 5 feet 3 inches, and was between 35 to 40 years old at the time.

There’s no sketch available for the male suspect but he’s described as a white, between 5 feet 9 inches and 6 feet tall, medium to large build, late 30s to early 40s at the time, with reddish to blonde hair that was thinning and a mustache.

If you have any information that could help police make an arrested call CrimeStoppers at 1-866-845-TIPS.