The police in New York on Friday arrested the personal assistant of the murdered Founder/Chief Executive Officer of Gokada, Fahim Saleh. Aspiring entrepreneur Tyrese Devon Haspil, 21, was arrested hours after the New York Police Department (NYPD) said it had identified a “person of interest” in the death of the tech entrepreneur who was found decapitated and dismembered in his Manhattan, New York apartment.
Saleh was killed on Monday but his remains were found on Tuesday.
Police also said that 33-year-old Saleh was tased before he was stabbed and dismembered.
The police called the death a homicide, with the cause being multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso.
Saleh’s Gokada was making waves in Nigeria until the motorcycle ride-sharing and delivery company was forced out of business following the restriction of commercial motorcycles from many routes in Lagos metropolis.
Haspil, according to media reports in the US and UK, will be charged with second degree murder and other counts.
Reports said Saleh was probably killed after he found out his assistant had stolen tens of thousands of dollars from him.
Saleh is also said to have set up a plan for Haspil to repay the money he allegedly stole instead of reporting him to authorities.
The New York Post reported that Haspil allegedly “reneged” on the repayment plan.
Police were yet to announce the arrest at press time.
Investigators believe the killer returned to Saleh’s apartment on Tuesday to clean up and dismember the tech entrepreneur’s body.
An electric saw that was still plugged in, a vacuum cleaner and cleaning products were found nearby.
Surveillance video on the fateful day shows Saleh around 1:40 p.m. being followed into his apartment elevator by a man wearing a suit, gloves, hat and mask and carrying a briefcase.
Once the elevator gets to the seventh floor, which opens into Saleh’s apartment, he falls to the ground, apparently as a result of an attack.
His remains were found 24 hours later by his sister who had been unsettled after not hearing from him all day.
By the time Saleh was found, his torso had been detached from his head and limbs. They were packed in several large bags, sources said.
Also recovered was an electric saw which may have been used in dismembering him.
Detectives are investigating Saleh’s finances for a possible motive, especially his dealings with Gokada.
In a separate account of the incident on Friday, the Daily Mail of London said Saleh, dressed in shorts and a t-shirt, “appeared suspicious when the masked-man fumbled with the elevator, which requires the use of a key fob to operate.”
It added: “As the doors opened to the seventh-floor, words were said to be exchanged between the pair before Saleh reportedly collapsed to the ground as he stepped into his apartment.
“A struggle then ensured between Saleh and the assailant but the elevator doors closed, obscuring the camera’s view of what happened next.
“An autopsy has since determined that his killer incapacitated him with a stun gun before stabbing him multiple times in the chest until he died.”
A law enforcement source said Saleh’s limbs had been ‘severed with surgical precision’, with his arms cut off at his shoulders, and his legs just below the knees.
Describing the murder as ‘professional’, the killer had reportedly kept Saleh’s blood confined to one corner of the room, tracing a near ‘perfect outline’ around his body.
Investigators also found a number of ominous objects nearby, including industrial-sized plastic bags – the kind used by construction contractors to dispose of trash, a myriad of cleaning products and an electric saw that was still plugged into the wall.
There is suspicion that the masked butcher may have been interrupted by Saleh’s sister when she stopped by her brother’s apartment to check in on him on Tuesday, having not seen or heard from him in more than a day.
The killer is believed to have fled the building through a fire escape while his victim’s sibling rode the elevator up, police said.
In addition to the saw still being plugged in, investigators noted that the blood around Saleh’s torso had not yet blackened.
Police sources say they believe the murder was financially motivated, likely the fatal result of a soured business deal.
Investigators are looking into the victim’s business affairs for any possible motives or suspects.
Saleh’s family appealed to the Police to find his ‘evil’ killer, calling the Fahim’s death unimaginable.
“No words or actions to provide any of us comfort except the capture of the person who exhibited nothing short of evil upon our loved one,” the family said in a statement.
They urged the NYPD and other members of law enforcement to “work diligently to get to the bottom of this horrific crime and bring justice for Fahim.
“The headlines talk about a crime we still cannot fathom,” Saleh’s family said, adding: “Fahim is more than what you are reading. 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. Fahim found success at an early age and built on it year after year, while remaining grounded and committed to helping others.
“No matter what he did, he did it while thinking of the greater good and his family.
“His parents and his sisters were his light and he was theirs. There are no words or actions to provide any of us comfort except the capture of the person who exhibited nothing short of evil upon our loved one.”
Saleh, who was born in Saudi Arabia but grew up in New York in a Bengali family, bought his luxury pad for $2.25 million last year and was clearly proud of his purchase – regularly posting pictures and video on his Instagram.
Gokada mourned the “sudden and tragic loss” of “a great leader, inspiration and positive light for all of us.”
“Our hearts go out to his friends, family and all those feeling the pain and heartbreak we are currently experiencing, here at Gokada,” the company said in a statement, adding: “Fahim’s vision and belief in us will be with us forever, and we will miss him dearly. Thank you for understanding as we get through this.”
In a second statement Gokada said it was “shocked and saddened” by the “tragic circumstances” surrounding Saleh’s death.
“Fahim’s passion for Nigeria and its youth was immeasurable. He believed young Nigerians are extremely bright and talented individuals who would flourish if just given the right opportunity. Fahim also believed that technology can transform lives and improve safety and efficiency. He built Gokada to act upon these beliefs.
Along with his two sisters – Rif Saleh and Ruby Bashir – he and his parents eventually settled in Rochester, New York.
His dream of making money is said to have started at an early age and he found that computers could help to realize those dreams.
He eventually turned his computer wizardry to building a website.
By the time he turned 15 years; Saleh had delved into programming and subsequently set up a blogging site just for his friends.
The teen hangout (teenhangout.com) soon grew beyond his wildest imagination and money began to come in to the tune of around $3 a month and between $100,000 and $150,000 a year when he got to high school.
He later attended Bentley University in Boston, Massachusetts where he studied Computer Information Systems.
There, he had a Facebook app which allowed students to have food delivered and thereafter a phone-pranking phone app that would let a user choose a prank call before calling up their friends to hear their surprised reaction.
In September 2018, Saleh co-founded Gokada in Nigeria which, in its first year of operation, had bought 1000 motorcycles in Lagos alone.
But the business was to collapse after the Lagos State government placed a restriction on commercial motorcycles operations in parts of the metropolis.
The ban came after the company had just raised $5.3 million in funding from Rise Capital, a Silicon Valley-based venture capital firm, in May 2019.
In an emotion-laden appeal to government to rescind the ban at the time, Saleh said: “‘it’s (Nigeria) not my country. It’s a country that I feel has amazing potential and amazing people and an opportunity to shine.
“The drivers, every one of them, wasn’t there because they just wanted to make money. They were there because they had families, children, dreams, they wanted to start businesses. They wanted to go to school.
“They had degrees already but they couldn’t find jobs. We were hoping that a lot of these drivers wouldn’t be drivers forever, we were hoping that we could place them in higher jobs in Gokada and create a beautiful community which was developing slowly and, it was really something that moved me to the point where I was OK putting all my money in, all my effort in.
“Gokada is not just a business. We do things that nobody else did at the time.