ST. PETERSBURG — Like many people his age, 19-year-old Aziz Ahmad was trying to figure out his place in the world.
Ahmad, who recently emigrated from Jordan, also wasn't thrilled about his job at a small convenience store.
He dropped off an application at Publix about 10 days ago. On Wednesday, he left his aunt and uncle's house in west St. Petersburg to apply at Walmart and other shops.
He called that night and told his family not to wait up for him.
The next morning, an employee at the Candlelight Inn motel on 34th Street found Ahmad, whose full name is Abdelaziz Mohamad Baker Ahmad, dead inside Room 118. He had been stabbed to death.
His family, and police, are struggling to figure out why.
"We wait," said Reham Darwish, Ahmad's aunt. "We don't know anything. It's hard."
Hours after Ahmad's body was discovered Thursday, police arrested a 21-year-old New Port Richey man and charged him with first-degree murder. But authorities said Friday they still don't know what motivated David Charles Willey, identified by surveillance video and other motel guests, to kill Ahmad.
Willey would not consent to an interview with detectives.
Surveillance video from the motel shows the two men going into Ahmad's room, but Willey leaving alone.
Darwish said her nephew, whom she treated as a son, was an introvert. He helped out at Fat Boy's Market in the 2600 block of Fifth Avenue S.
Ahmad decided to seek a new job earlier this month after a group of teens jumped him outside the store as he tried to help someone who was hurt. According to police, who arrested three teenagers in the Aug. 7 attack, Ahmad's front teeth were knocked out.
"He didn't show his feelings," Darwish said. "If he was having trouble with someone, he kept it secret."
Ahmad moved to St. Petersburg in November with his wife, who was born in the United States. The young couple married overseas, Darwish said.
Ahmad had never been to the U.S. before. His mother had planned to visit Sept. 4 to see how he was doing.
"She lived for him," Darwish said, her eyes welling with tears. "We are missing him. He was nice, quiet, funny."