A suspect in the murder of Gokada‘s founder, Fahim Saleh, has been arrested, American law enforcement officials have said.
The victim was found decapitated and dismembered in his Manhattan apartment on Tuesday.
Officials of the New York Police Department (NYPD) apprehended the personal assistant of the young tech entrepreneur early Friday and he now faces charges in the grisly killing, the New York Times reported.
Mr Saleh, 33, was discovered dead on Tuesday afternoon by his sister inside his $2.25 million condo in a luxury building on the Lower East Side, the police said.
She had gone to check in on him after not hearing from him for about a day.
She found a gruesome scene. Mr Saleh’s head and limbs had been removed, and parts of his body had been placed in large plastic bags. An electric saw was still plugged in nearby.
The personal assistant, Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, is expected to be charged in a criminal complaint with second-degree murder and other crimes.
The police who had earlier suspected that the killing might have been financially motivated confirmed on Friday that it indeed was.
According to the police, the motive for the gruesome killing stemmed from Mr Saleh having discovered that the assistant had stolen tens of thousands of dollars from him.
Mr Saleh had not reported the man and had set up what amounted to a repayment plan for him to return the money.
Their findings concluded that Mr Saleh was killed on Monday, the day before his body was found. The killer used his employer’s credit card to pay for a car to a home depot, on West 23rd Street in Manhattan, to buy cleaning supplies to sanitise the crime scene, the official said.
The killer reportedly returned to Mr Saleh’s apartment the next day to dismember the body and clean up the crime scene.
The killer who dressed in a black three-piece suit, wearing a black mask and carrying a duffel bag, was captured in a surveillance camera, following Mr Saleh off an elevator in his building and into his apartment.
He was said to have used a taser to immobilise Mr Saleh and then stabbed him to death.
The security video taken from inside the elevator shows the killer later using a battery-operated portable vacuum cleaner in an apparent effort to remove any traces of his presence, the officials told the newspaper.
Meanwhile, an autopsy conducted by a New York medical examiner on Thursday showed that Mr Saleh had died from multiple stab wounds to his neck and torso.
Initially, a law enforcement official had described the killing as a “hit” that looked “like a professional job” because the killer had put the dismembered body inside contractor bags as if to hide the evidence of the crime.
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According to the police detective, the killer’s work of dismembering the body was interrupted when Mr Saleh’s sister buzzed from the building’s lobby, prompting him to flee through the apartment’s back door and into a stairwell before the sister arrived.
Mr Saleh, who was born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi immigrant parents, was described as a nice and loving person who loved gadgets and video games.
Reacting to his sudden death, his family said in a statement on Wednesday that the gruesome killing was so shocking it was unfathomable.
“Fahim is more than what you are reading,” the family reportedly said. “He is so much more. His brilliant and innovative mind took everyone who was a part of his world on a journey and he made sure never to leave anyone behind.”
He has been described by friends as a self-made millionaire who brought tech companies into nations like Nigeria and Indonesia.
They called him the “Elon Musk of the developing world” for his efforts to bring an Uber-like start-up to Nigeria.
He had an early start in the technology space, building apps and games.
In 2009, he built an app called PrankDial that allowed users to send prerecorded prank calls, after graduating from Bentley University in Waltham, Massachusetts, U.S.A.
Mr Saleh went on to establish Pathao, a motorcycle ride-sharing start-up in Bangladesh, which he left to start another company in 2018 as a similar venture in Nigeria, an app known as Gokada.
Gokada raised $5.3 million in funding in May 2019 but, following the Lagos State government’s ban on commercial motorbike operation on major routes in the state in January, his company laid off 75 per cent of its workforce.
Following the ban, Mr Saleh, allaying fears that the company might have run into bankruptcy, said in a Twitter post “we still have money in the bank and are pivoting towards deliveries while this transport ban gets sorted. We were due to make a profit in January before the ban was announced.”
After his death, the company on Wednesday tweeted a statement about the incident, saying they were saddened by “the tragic loss of our founder and CEO, Fahim Saleh. Fahim was a great leader, inspiration and positive light for all of us.”
“Fahim’s passion for Nigeria and its youth was immeasurable,” Gokada said in a statement.