• Tuesday, Sep 29, 2020
  • Last Update : 06:31 pm

Former assistant charged over Fahim Saleh murder

  • Published at 09:41 am July 18th, 2020
Tyrese Devon Haspil
Tyrese Devon Haspil, the suspect in the murder of Fahim Saleh is led from 7th Precinct to a car in the Manhattan Borough of New York City, New York, US, July 17, 2020 Reuters

Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, was charged with second-degree murder after his arrest on Friday

The former assistant of slain Bangladeshi-origin US millionaire technology entrepreneur Fahim Saleh has been charged with his murder, New York police said.

Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, was charged with second-degree murder after his arrest on Friday in the gruesome execution of Fahim Saleh, 33, inside the victim's Lower East Side condo, reports New York Daily News.

Wearing glasses with his hair cropped short, Haspil was led from the 7th Precinct in a white Tyvek suit, face mask, handcuffs and leg shackles. 

He, however, did not respond to any questions from reporters, but kept his head up while walking slowly with two detectives.

Haspil, who has no prior criminal record, asked for a lawyer right away and made no statements to police, the Daily News said citing a source.

"Mr Haspil was Mr Saleh's executive assistant and handled his finances and personal matters," the chief of detectives, Rodney K Harrison, said at a brief news conference on Friday afternoon, reports The New York Times.

"It is also believed that he owed the victim a significant amount of money."

However, Harrison took no questions from reporters about the high-profile murder.

Who is Haspil?

Haspil graduated from Central High School in Valley Stream, New York, four years ago and he also won an award for website design there, The New York Times said quoting some local news articles. 

In 2017, he entered Hofstra as a member of its class of 2021.

Haspil began working for Fahim when he was 16, and eventually started managing some of his finances as well as taking care of personal matters, according to detectives.

An official said Fahim paid him well enough that he was able to settle the debts of several members of his family.

Haspil embezzled $90,000 from Fahim

According to three officials briefed on the matter, Fahim had discovered that Haspil had stolen roughly $90,000 from him. Though Fahim fired Haspil, he did not report the theft, the officials said, according to The New York Times. 

He even offered to arrange a way for his former employee to work off his debt in what amounted to a payment plan, the report said.

Police arrested Haspil, a Long Island native who had recently attended Hofstra University, at 8:45am on Friday in the lobby of a building at 172 Crosby Street in SoHo, an official said. 

He had been staying in an apartment there with a female friend.

The building's superintendent, who declined to give his name, said Haspil tried to run.

He arrived at the Crosby Street apartment on Wednesday and was planning to leave on Monday, the superintendent added.

New York detectives and federal agents from a US Marshals Service regional fugitive task force took him into custody.

Murder description

Fahim was discovered dead on July 14, when his sister went to check on him at his apartment on East Houston Street on the Lower East Side. 

Officials said she was worried after not hearing from Fahim for about a day, The New York Times said.

Police said after entering the apartment, she discovered Fahim's head and limbs had been removed, and parts of his body had been placed in plastic bags designed for construction debris. An electric saw was plugged in nearby.

Investigators said Fahim was killed the day before, according to a fourth official with knowledge of the inquiry.

A video showed that an individual, police believe to be Haspil, followed Fahim into his building and then into an elevator, where they appeared to engage in small talk, the officials said.

The suspect, who was carrying a duffel bag, was dressed in a black three-piece suit and wore a black mask and latex gloves, according to the officials.

As the duo left the elevator, which opened directly into Fahim's seventh-floor unit, the assailant fired a Taser into the victim's back and immobilized him, law enforcement officials said. 

The suspect then stabbed Fahim to death, wounding him multiple times in his neck and torso.

Suspect used credit card to buy cleaning supplies

According to the fourth official, the suspect used a credit card after the murder to hire a car to go to a Home Depot, on West 23rd Street in Manhattan, to buy cleaning supplies.

Dressed in a gray hooded sweatshirt, the assailant returned to Fahim's apartment the next day to dismember the body and clean up the crime scene.

Security video from inside Fahim's elevator showed that the man used a portable vacuum cleaner, perhaps in an effort to remove residue that was left behind when the Taser was fired, the officials said.

They said when the assailant was cutting up the body, Fahim's sister buzzed the apartment from the building's lobby. 

The killer fled through a back door and down a stairwell before she got upstairs.

'Rookie mistakes'

In the beginning, a law enforcement official described Fahim's death as a "hit," but some investigators now believed that Haspil might have tried to make the killing look like a professional assassination in an effort to trick detectives into thinking it was linked Fahim's business deals.

An investigator said Haspil made "several rookie mistakes" -- including buying a Taser online with his own credit card and signing for the package when it arrived in June.

Fahim Saleh was the co-founder of motorcycle ride-sharing and delivery service Pathao in Bangladesh. He was also the co-founder and CEO of Gokada, a motorcycle ride-sharing service based in Nigeria.

Gokada followed his success with Pathao in Bangladesh, which he founded with Hussain M Elius and Shifat Adnan in 2015, and was valued at over $100 million.

Fahim was also the founding partner in a Manhattan-based venture capital fund, Adventure Capital, that invested in similar transit start-ups in Colombia and Bangladesh.

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