A suspect has been arrested in Fahim Saleh’s murder. The police said his former personal assistant was arrested early on Friday and would be charged in the killing of the tech guru.
Saleh was found murdered on Tuesday in his apartment in New York, and his body was dismembered. The gruesome incident sparked outrage and concern around the world early this week.
Saleh was popular in Asia and Africa where he pioneered transport motorbike hailing apps that eased commuting. He was the founder and CEO of Gokada, a Lagos based ride-hailing motorbike company, and cofounder of Pathao, Popular in Bangladesh and Nepal.
The police said that money is the motive behind the murder of Saleh. His former personal assistant, Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, who had a five years work relationship with Saleh was stealing from him. According to detectives, Saleh found out that Haspil has stolen about $90,000 from him.
The officials said text messages between the two showed Saleh accusing his former employee of stealing his money. Saleh didn’t report the matter but gave Haspil a timeline to pay back what he had stolen.
Haspil handles finances and personal matters for Saleh. NYPD Chief of Detectives Rodney Harrison said he was arrested Friday morning in the lobby of another luxury apartment building several blocks away from where Saleh was killed.
“Mr. Haspil was Mr. Saleh’s executive assistant and handled his finances and personal matters, and owed the victim a significant amount of money,” Harrison said on a news briefing Friday afternoon.
Autopsy confirmed that Saleh was killed by multiple stab wounds in the neck and torso. The security footage recovered by the police showed the two struggling at the entrance of the victim’s apartment, where it was believed that Haspil used a Taser on him.
Contrary to what the police believed earlier, that Saleh’s sister who called 911 may have interrupted the murder, new evidence suggests that the murder happened on Monday afternoon. And the murderer must have fled using the apartment’s back door on Tuesday at the sound of Saleh’s sister’s presence, while dissecting the body to cover his crime.
Detectives believe the assailant must have come back to make the death look like a hit from a bad business from Nigeria, Bangladesh or Colombia, where the victim has venture capital.
An official who spoke on anonymity said the killer used a credit card to pay for a car to a Home Depot, on West 23rd Street in Manhattan, and to buy cleaning supplies. He had returned to the crime scene the next day to clean it up when he was interrupted by the visit of the victim’s sister.
Detectives investigating the matter had believed it was a pro job, but changed their belief when they spotted a lot of rookie traces. The surveillance video showed the killer trying to use a vacuum cleaner to wipe out perceived evidence where the taser was used.
He was also discovered to have bought the Taser online with his own credit card in June, and signed for it when it was delivered. He also used one of Saleh’s credit cards to buy balloons for a birthday, said one of the police officers handling the matter.
“The credit card was used to buy balloons, and this and that, because he was with a girl for her birthday. How stupid can you be?” said the officer.
People familiar with their work relationship said Saleh had helped Haspil financially so that he was able to settle his family debts.
Detectives handling the matter said he had worked with Saleh since he was 16, and overtime, gained his trust to manage his personal matters including home chores.
Haspil who graduated from Central High School in Valley Stream, New York, was said to win an award for website design, a skill that possibly drew Saleh to him.
Saleh’s gruesome death has thrown his family and friends and the entire Nigerian tech community into mourning. Everyone has good words for him upon his death, which opposes the suspicion that his murder could have related to a business gone wrong.
“The headlines talk about a crime we still cannot fathom,” Saleh’s family said in a statement after his death. “Fahim 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.”
Those close to him in Nigeria, Bangladesh and Columbia share his family’s sentiment – The world has lost a good man.