Thursday, October 01, 2020

Tech CEO Fahim Saleh's personal assistant arrested, charged in grisly slaying

Jul 18. 2020
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By The Washington Post · Jacob Bogage · NATIONAL, BUSINESS, TECHNOLOGY, COURTSLAW 

The 21-year-old personal assistant of Fahim Saleh was arrested Friday in the grisly slaying of the tech investor, an attack police said appeared tied to the theft of tens of thousands of dollars.

Tyrese Devon Haspil is accused of attacking Saleh, 33, at his luxury apartment in Manhattan on Monday. New York police say Haspil dismembered the body a day later with an electric saw and put the remains in trash bags.

A female family member discovered the remains on Tuesday, when she went to check on Saleh after not hearing from him, NYPD Detectives Chief Rodney Harrison said during a Friday news briefing. Harrison said the family member was a cousin, but initial reports said it was Saleh's sister. Harrison did not take questions or address the discrepancy.

Police earlier said she may have interrupted Haspil when she buzzed Saleh's unit from the building's entry, and they suspect he escaped down a service entrance.

Haspil was arrested Friday morning outside a building in the city's SoHo neighborhood, Harrison said. Haspil faces second-degree murder and other charges and was expected to be arraigned later Friday.

The gruesome killing shocked neighbors and the tech and venture capital worlds, where Saleh, a founding partner at Adventure Capital, cultivated a reputation as an energetic, creative businessman who specialized in direct investment in developing nations. His ride-sharing apps in Nigeria, Gokada, and his parents' native Bangladesh, Pathao, grew to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.

"Fahim is more than what you are reading," his family said in a Wednesday statement. "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."

Haspil was Saleh's executive assistant and "handled his finances and personal matters," Harrison said. "It is also believed that he owed the victim a significant amount of money."

Saleh recently discovered that Haspil - who'd worked for him for five years - stole roughly $90,000 from him, the New York Times reported, citing unnamed law enforcement officials. 

Saleh did not file a police report, the Times noted, choosing instead to fire Haspil and offer to set up a repayment plan.

Police say Haspil, dressed in a black three-piece suit, followed Saleh into the key-card secured elevator that led to his seventh-floor apartment and attacked him when the elevator stopped. He disabled Saleh with a Taser, police told the Times, and stabbed him several times in the neck and torso.

Police say Haspil left the apartment to obtain cleaning supplies from Home Depot, then returned to dismember Saleh's body and erase any potential DNA evidence, even using a handheld vacuum to clean the elevator.

Born in Saudi Arabia to Bangladeshi parents, Saleh was raised in Upstate New York and earned a computer science degree from Bentley University, an elite private school in Waltham, Mass. He started building websites as a child; his first was Salehfamily.com, which relatives used to coordinate family gatherings, according to a 2016 blog profile.

By the time he was 15, he published a blogging site where friends took turns posting comments and then replying to each other. After it began turning a modest income, Saleh branched out and developed other sites, leveraging advertisements.

"I just sat at my house in my pajamas, created something, placed some ads and generated revenue," he told the blog Radiche. "That showed promise that it could actually be successful and I could make money off this."

"I would stay up super late, work on it and would be worried my dad would catch me," he added. "He thought it would hinder my schoolwork, which it didn't. Then, I got my first paycheck from Google for $500 as a teenager and showed it to my dad. He was like, 'Okay, let's open an account.' The same website was sold on eBay for $2,000."

During his years at Bentley, he canvassed restaurants around Boston to create a Facebook food delivery app. After graduating in 2009, he launched Prank Dial, a prank-calling app that allows users to pay to send a prerecorded call to a friend.

By 2018, Saleh wrote in a Medium post, the site had generated more than $10 million in revenue. 

He helped launch Pathao in 2015, which Forbes valued at $100 million. Gokada, launched in 2018 in Nigeria, is worth $150 million, according Complex magazine.

"What an honour it is to have been led by you Fahim," Gokada tweeted. "Your teachings on safety, efficiency and kindness will continue to follow us as we uphold the legacy which you successfully began."

 

 

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