A former executive assistant to tech entrepreneur Fahim Saleh, whose dismembered body was found in his luxury Manhattan apartment this week, was charged with second-degree homicide on Friday.
Tyrese Haspil, 21, was taken into custody by the NYPD on Thursday night in connection with the gruesome slaying of the 33-year-old startup whiz.
A law-enforcement source told The Daily Beast that detectives began zeroing in on Haspil after finding message exchanges in which Saleh had accused him of stealing tens of thousands of dollars over a period of time.
Investigators ran a credit-card check and determined that Haspil’s was used to buy a saw and cleaning supplies from a nearby Home Depot the day after the murder. His card was even used to pay for rides to and from the crime scene, a law-enforcement source said.
Saleh was the co-CEO of Gokada, a Nigerian-based motorbike ride-share company, akin to a two-wheeled Uber. He also had an investment firm called Adventure Capital, and Haspil listed himself as chief of staff on one social-media site.
Haspil, who has his own marketing and consulting company, was described by police as the former executive assistant to Saleh who, among other things, handled the finances.
While Saleh had not reported Haspil’s alleged theft to the cops, he had given Haspil the opportunity to repay the missing funds over time, police said on Friday.
Instead, on Monday afternoon, Saleh was followed into the elevator at his Lower East Side condo complex by a man dressed in a black designer suit with a mask and hood to match. Detectives who watched video of the encounter said he looked like the “Grim Reaper.”
The elevator opened right into Saleh’s $2 million apartment, which occupied the entire seventh floor of the 10-story building—and his assailant stepped in behind him. Investigators believe he may have used a Taser on Saleh, who crumpled to the floor.
The elevator doors then closed, so videocameras did not capture what happened next, but the autopsy made it plain: Saleh was killed by multiple stab wounds to the torso.
The killer, detectives believe, waited until the victim’s blood coagulated before cutting up the body with an electric saw and putting parts in contractor garbage bags.
When NYPD cops arrived at the apartment Tuesday afternoon, alerted by a concerned family member, they found Saleh’s torso, with the head and limbs removed. They suspected the butcher was interrupted and fled before he could get rid of all the remains.
Haspil appears to have expensive tastes, as reflected not just by the black designer suit that police say he wore to the murder scene but also by the numerous Louis Vuitton items he posted for sale on Tradesy.com, including a pair of $660 shoes, which he marked down from $795.
Saleh’s family issued an anguished statement on Wednesday begging police to find the person behind a crime “we still cannot fathom.”
“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,” it said.
“We need and urge 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.”
Born in Saudi Arabia and raised in upstate New York, Saleh began dabbling in digital businesses in high school, hit it big with an app called PrankDial, and then set his sights on the developing world. He invested in Colombia, launched a company in his parents’ native Bangladesh, and then created Gokada.
“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,” the family said. “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.”
His alleged killer has a scant public profile, with his Instagram and Twitter accounts locked. It appears Haspil ran track at Long Island’s Valley Stream Central High School, where he took part in the Future Business Leaders of America competition, winning a first-place prize in a national competition for website design.
It’s not clear whether or where he attended college. On a freelance site, he advertised himself as a software developer and graphic designer and wrote that “as an entrepreneur, I understand the importance of proactivity and results and I’ve learned the meaning of responsibility and accountability.”