Crime and Courts

Chief investigative reporter Jonathan Dienst on crime, corruption and terrorism.
homicide

Sources: Beheaded, Dismembered Tech Entrepreneur Found in Luxe NYC Apartment

A saw, but very little blood, was found at the scene

NBC Universal, Inc.

Detectives are looking for the person who beheaded and dismembered a tech entrepreneur in his luxury New York City apartment, law enforcement sources tell News 4 New York.

According to sources, Fahim Saleh's body was discovered by his sister, who dropped by his Lower East Side apartment to check on him Tuesday afternoon. Police sources familiar with the investigation say he was last seen alive Monday afternoon; a close friend told News 4 she had seen him over the weekend.

Surveillance footage showed Saleh getting on the elevator at his building on East Houston Street, followed by a suspect in dark clothing, police sources said. The 33-year-old entrepreneur was attacked as soon as he got off on the seventh floor, which opened right into his unit, according to sources.

His body wasn't discovered until the following day, when the sister went to check on him. She or another relative called 911, telling operators Saleh's head, arms and legs had been cut off, and body parts had been found in bags. An electric saw was near the body and still plugged into the electric socket, but there wasn't much blood at the scene. Investigators believe the sister's welfare check interrupted the dismemberment and the suspect slipped out of a service exit.

A senior NYPD official leading the investigation confirmed to NBC New York on Wednesday that the motive appeared to be financial in nature, the result of a bad business deal. Sources said the killing may have been a targeted hit, as investigators look into the victim's business affairs for any possible motives or suspects.

"I think it was an overseas situation where they hired a hit man to do this and maybe the person is on a plane out of here," a friend of Saleh told NBC New York. Detectives are said to be looking into that possibility.

Saleh's close friend, who didn't wish to be identified, described him as a positive person who always saw the glass half full. Friends called him "Elon Musk of the developing world" for his work to bring an Uber-like startup to Nigeria.

"In terms of his energy, I've never met anyone like him. He's always on the go," she told NBC New York. She initially thought his death was a prank after Saleh's sister and his best friend called to inform her of his passing.

"One of the neighbors heard screaming and very loud noises when this happened. I don't know why the neighbors didn't call the cops," she said.

Gokada, the motorbike-hailing company Saleh founded and where he served as CEO, tweeted a statement Wednesday saying they were saddened by "the tragic loss of our founder and CEO, Fahim Saleh. Fahim was a great leader, inspiration and positive light for all of us."

The city medical examiner determined that Saleh died from multiple stab wounds to the neck and torso, ruling the death a homicide.

No arrests have been made in the case. Descriptions or images of the suspect also have not been released, though sources said police have video from inside the building that may show the suspect.

Police were seen canvassing the area on Tuesday night, and the chief of detectives was seen at the scene. They say Saleh owned a dog, but the dog wasn't harmed.

Correction: Saleh's last name was previously misspelled in the previous version of this story.

Copyright NBC New York
Contact Us