Tyrese Devon Haspil is the suspect accused in the gruesome dismemberment murder of Fahim Saleh, a tech millionaire from New York who was doing business in Nigeria before his body parts were found near an electric saw in his luxurious Manhattan apartment.
The New York Times broke the news of the arrest of Haspil, describing him as Saleh’s “personal assistant.” In a subsequent news conference, the NYPD’s Chief of Detectives, Rodney Harrison, confirmed that Haspil was arrested and charged with second-degree murder.
“Mr. Fahim Saleh’s cousin discovered his dismembered body in the living room of his apartment with his head, arms and legs amputated,” Harrison said, adding that, “21-year-old Tyrese Haspil was taken into custody” in a building lobby.
“Mr. Haspil was Mr. Saleg’s executive assistant and handled his finances and personal matters,” said Harrison.
Haspil is a self-described “entrepreneur” who graduated from a Long Island High School, where he competed in business contests in web design and ran track. However, whereas Saleh built a fortune on tech start-ups and a prank website, Haspil, also an aspiring entrepreneur, was relegated to working for him, and a business theft may have provided a motive for the grisly slaying, authorities indicated.
The murder scene was gruesome. Saleh was found decapitated and dismembered next to the electric saw in his condo.
“We have a torso, a head that’s been removed, arms, and legs. Everything is still on the scene,” NYPD spokesman Sergeant Carlos Nieves told the New York Daily News, which reported that the body was Saleh’s. According to the newspaper, a video captured a suit-wearing man entering an elevator with Saleh in the moments before he met with foul play. Authorities believe that man was Haspil.
Saleh’s arms and legs were cut off with “surgical precision,” according to the New York Post, and then placed in bags. The newspaper quoted a source as initially describing the scene as “professional,” saying the killer kept the blood in one corner in a “nearly perfect outline” around the body.
Friends told the Daily News that Saleh seemed “happy-go-lucky” and not scared of anything. He started a series of companies from a prank dial app and site to a motorcycle ride-sharing firm.
A friend told ABC7: “I’ve never met anyone like him, he’s always on the go, extremely positive, uplifting, the glass is half full, just a really really, good friend who’s always always there for you.”
Here’s what you need to know:
1. Authorities Believe the Motive Stems From Haspil Being Accused of Stealing Money From Saleh
Harrison said in the news conference that “it’s also believed that he (Haspil) owed the victim a significant amount of money.”
According to The New York Times, detectives believe Saleh had “discovered that the assistant had stolen tens of thousands of dollars from him,” providing a motive for murder. The Times reported that Saleh didn’t report the alleged theft to the police but asked Haspil to repay the money. The New York Post alleged the theft amounted to $100,000 and that Haspil allegedly “reneged” on the repayment plan.
“This was an act of charity that turned into an act of murder,” a source told the Post.
Authorities have not confirmed the details reported in The Times, including Haspil’s name and arrest. The Times also reported that investigators now believe Saleh was killed the day before the dismemberment, stunned with a Taser and then stabbed to death in the neck and torso, and the killer returned to the apartment to dispose of the body. The killer also used a portable vacuum cleaner to try to clean the crime scene, according to the newspaper.
The grisly discovery came July 14 in Manhattan, when police found the “limbless, headless torso” of Saleh inside his luxurious condo, according to the New York Daily News. The New York Times reported that Saleh’s sister had discovered the murder when she went “to check in on him after not hearing from him for about a day.”
The Daily News reported that an electric saw was lying next to the remains. The condo is located on Manhattan’s lower east side on East Houston Street at Suffolk Street.
According to the Daily News, the police also found contractor bags nearby. The newspaper reported that Saleh purchased the condo for $2.25 million last year. “His limbs and head were stuffed in bags in the living room,” ABC7 reported.
2. Haspil Worked for Saleh’s Venture Capital Firm as His Chief of Staff & Personal Assistant
According to the New York Post, Haspil “worked as Saleh’s chief of staff at his venture capital firm Adventure Capital — but acted as his personal assistant.”
Police identified Haspil through “anti-felon identification cards that were spewed like confetti in Saleh’s apartment,” NBC New York reported. AFID cards are small, colorful tags inside most Taser cartridges that are printed with serial numbers. Whenever the Taser is deployed, 20 to 30 AFID cards are ejected, enabling law enforcement to trace the stun gun used, according to Taser manufacturer Axon.
According to NBC New York, Saleh’s remains were discovered by his sister, who may have interrupted the killer because the electric saw was still plugged in. “Investigators believe the sister’s welfare check interrupted the dismemberment and the suspect slipped out of a service exit,” the television station reported, quoting a friend who called Saleh the “Elon Musk of the developing world.”
On Twitter, Saleh described himself as, “CEO @gokadang. An investor that finds things. Founding Partner at Ad Capital.” His parents are from Bangladesh. According to Tech Crunch, the venture ran into trouble when Nigeria began regulating the motorcycle taxis, called okadas.
On LinkedIn, he wrote:
Fahim Saleh is the CEO and founder of Gokada, a motorcycle ridesharing company that has completed over one million rides since launching in 2018. He has over 15 years of entrepreneurial experience. His first company in high school generated over one million dollars in revenue. After college, he taught himself how to program and started KickBack Apps, garnering over twenty-million downloads. Seeing an opportunity in his parent’s native country of Bangladesh, he went on to co-found the largest ride-sharing company in the country valued at over $100 million – Pathao. Fahim is also an active investor in emerging markets, investing first in Colombia’s largest motorcycle ridesharing company – Picap, recently valued at $15 million.
His last tweet, written on July 4, was a poll that read, “How trustworthy of a brand would you say Gokada is compared to other Nigerian companies?”
Daily News described Gokada as a motorcycle ride-sharing company in Lagos and Saleh as a “website developer turned venture capital.” The Gokada Twitter page says, “1000 Pilots to do your deliveries with that Gokada quality you know you can trust. Need we say more? Try your first delivery with us today.”
The newspaper reported that police went to check on Saleh after receiving a call from his sister.
3. A Video Shows the Suit-Clad Killer Got Into an Elevator With Saleh & Pretended to Hit a Button for a Different Floor; Authorities Say He Looked Like the ‘Grim Reaper’
A surveillance video in an elevator may provide clues to the killer. According to Daily Beast, authorities said he resembled the “Grim Reaper.”
“It was revealed that on Monday (the day before the homicide)…Mr. Saleh was assaulted by Mr. Haspil with what appears to be a conductive energy weapon better known as a Taser while exiting an elevator into his apartment,” Harrison confirmed in the news conference.
The video shows Saleh get into the elevator “followed quickly by a second man, dressed in a suit, wearing gloves, a hat and a mask over his face,” according to Daily News, adding that the man also had a suitcase and appeared “very professional.” The New York Post accused Haspil of being the second man in the elevator.
Saleh fell when the elevator door opened, although it’s not clear why. ABC7 reported that there is video of Saleh with his “killer.”
The New York Post reported that the killer appeared to pretend to choose another elevator floor. Instead, he followed Saleh into his own apartment, which the elevator opened directly into. The assassin was dressed all in black, according to the Post. The New York Times described the killer as being “dressed in a black three-piece suit, white shirt and tie, wearing a black mask and carrying a duffel bag.”
On LinkedIn, Saleh also listed himself as founding partner of Adventure Capital in New York, which he described as “finding good people, dodging oncoming traffic, and building value.”
He was CEO for five years of KickBack Apps, an entertainment-focused app company. Current apps were listed as “PrankDial, PrankPad, Textr.”
He was a member of YEC for two years, and was a founder and investor for Pathao, in Bangladesh. He described that as “the most well-funded startup in Bangladesh, recently valued at over $100 million.” He said it was “attacking multiple verticals including transportation, food, delivery, and payments.”
Saleh was founding manager of HackHouse, a “tech incubator/venture factory focused in Bangladesh” and was CEO of TapFury, developing “the finest prank calling app ever – PrankDial.” He was vice president of WizTeen, a “network of websites targeted towards teenagers.” His bachelor’s degree was in CIS from Bentley University.
A man who gave him a recommendation on Linkedin wrote, “Fahim Saleh is one of the brightest young entrepreneurs I have ever met and worked with. Fahim is constantly challenging the status quo by creating new ventures and continually brainstorming innovative business models. I had the pleasure of launching a company with Fahim while at Bentley University and couldn’t have met a better business partner at the time. I highly recommend Fahim for anything tech, entrepreneurial, or business development related.”
4. A Credit Card Trail Showed Haspil, Who Ran Track for a Long Island High School, Purchased a Saw, Reports Allege
What led authorities to Haspil? According to Daily Beast, “message exchanges in which Saleh had accused him of stealing tens of thousands of dollars over a period of time” drew investigators’ attention. They ran a background check on Haspil’s credit card and discovered that he used his card to “buy the saw and cleaning supplies used after the murder, and that his card was even used to pay for rides to and from the crime scene,” Daily Beast alleged, citing a source.
In addition, alleged the New York Daily News, “a Taser prong found on Saleh’s body had a serial number that also connected Haspil the murder.”
There are Instagram and Twitter accounts in the name of Tyrese Haspil of New York but they are private. A Facebook page says Haspil graduated from Long Island’s Valley Stream Central High School. The Daily Beast reported that this appears to be the same Tyrese Haspil. Haspil also had a website in his name and an LLC.
The Facebook page said he graduated from high school in 2017 and is single. Online profiles indicate that Haspil ran track and field in high school.
An older Twitter account in Haspil’s name contains this 2012 tweet, “thinking about being a bloody panda for halloween. k?” In 2016, while in high school, Haspil competed at the Future Business Leaders of America New York State Leadership Convention in Rochester, New York, in web design, according to LIHerald. He won first place. See a high school presentation he helped create here. There’s a photo of him at the end of it.
In a post on Medium, Saleh described how he got his start. “I graduated from Bentley University in 2009, into the tough job market created by the economic recession,” he wrote.
“Pursuing big city life, I applied to several companies in New York City (choice A) and Boston (choice B), primarily. But the only offer I got was from a company in a small town outside Boston. While the location was not what I was looking for, I knew I’d probably have to take it if a better prospect didn’t present itself soon.”
In high school, he wrote, he had “started a social network for teens, teenhangout.com, and a website that offered free AIM (AOL Instant Messenger) buddy icons, or avatars.” Soon, they were bringing in $200,000 a year but then competition made that dwindle, he wrote.
He had always loved pranks growing up, and so that hatched an idea. “And even as I grew up, my passion for a well-executed prank remained. Figuring I might want it for a potential future project, I nabbed the domain PrankDial.com around the same time that I was creating teenhangout.com and other sites,” he wrote.
Saleh created the prank site, and it took off. “I recorded a few prank call MP3s in varying voices, uploaded them, and created a system that let a user pick the prank call scenario they wanted, then call a friend with it by entering their friend’s phone number. From there, I simply spread the word across a few websites, and watched it gain traction,” he wrote, claiming that the venture brought in $10 million over time. An app was created for it.
“That’s created the opportunity for me to pursue other ventures, like founding the venture firm Adventure Capital, which invests in startups in the developing world,” he said of the prank site’s success.
Saleh was sued by a former New Jersey jail deputy director, Kirk Eady, who alleged he was misled that Saleh’s prank site was legal, Daily News reported, noting that the site allowed a person to listen into a conversation between two other people. Eady received 21 months in prison after being accused of illegally wiretapping two subordinates. His suit against Saleh is still pending.
5. Haspil Advertised His Services as a Freelance Graphic Designer & Software Developer, Calling Himself an ‘Entrepreneur’
An entry in Tyrese Haspil’s name on a freelancers website says he advertised his services as a graphic designer and software developer. “As an entrepreneur, I understand the importance of proactivity and results and I’ve learned the meaning of responsibility and accountability,” he wrote. “I am more of a generalist than a specialist, though, however, I love the detail and deep understanding that comes from intense focus and work on both development and creative projects.”
One recent tweet by Saleh is now somewhat eerie.
A YouTube video he posted says, “Gokada. Get ready for a fresh experience in managing your deliveries.”
He sometimes shared his business philosophies on Twitter.
On July 2, he wrote, “Nigeria is an unforgiving market. Focus obsessively – less is more. Have integrity. Build trust. Be patient. The market will reward you in time.” On June 29, he tweeted, “Any good product people in Lagos that want to build out Gsend or Gokada Business?”
In June, he wrote, “tech mantra: get rid of the middlemen” and “If you’re rich and believe income inequality is a real problem, tip everyone 100%.”
He also wrote, “As an entrepreneur, changes in behavior are something you must be cognizant of and adapt to. With #COVID19Pandemic there are temp changes and ones that will sustain post-crisis. An astute #entreprenuer would identify those lasting changes and execute. Are you paying attention?”
“Nigeria is like the gravity room equivalent of training to be an entrepreneur. #nerdjokes,” he added.