Atlanta city cop Tahreem Zeus Rana has been arrested and charged with killing Vernecia Woodard, aka Venicia Woodard, a woman whom police say he met on Craigslist, according to a report by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Hapeville police officers made the arrest at the Hartsfield-Jackson International airport Thursday, August 28, where police handcuffed Rana after passing through security. Officers made the arrest just before Tahreem Zeus Rana was to board a plane bound for Mexico. Officers were one step ahead of the accused Craigslist killer due to Rana's name being placed on a no-fly list.
The initial police investigation began after the body of a woman was found dead on Elm Street. When police officers arrived to the scene they found the body of a Black female with multiple gunshot wounds to the body. The woman, who appeared to be in her 20's, was later identified as 26-year-old Vernicia Woodard, sometimes spelled Venicia Woodard. Internet email records led detectives to Rana, who had disappeared by the time officers tried to meet with him.
Woodard met Officer Tahreem Zeus Rana on Craigslist, police believe. Law enforcement officials say the woman agreed to meet with Tahreem Zeus Rana for a romantic evening. Cops say that after the meet up Tahreem Rana shot Vernicia Woodard and set her body afire the same day.
According to WSBTV, one police officer on the force had known Tahreem Zeus Rana since he was a little kid growing up in Hapeville. "I've been a police officer in city of Hapeville for 15 years and actually saw this young man grow up and heard him say, 'When I grow up, I want to be a police officer." "And then, later, to be the one that is actually investigating him in this case," stated Detective Stephen Cushing.
Hearing about the arrest of one of their own is disturbing for the police department, according to CBS.
"We must allow the justice system to run its course. But these clearly are very disturbing allegations that are not in line with the expectations we have for our officers, and will be immediately dealt with, stated Carlos Campos Director of Public Affairs for the Atlanta City Police Department.
The Craigslist site gained popularity nationwide in 2000. The site is primarily used to buy items at bargain prices with the intent to bring the flea market experience right into one's home. In recent years, Craigslist has been used as a place to meet up or hook up for sex with strangers online. The site has been associated with a long list of deaths and murders by people who have met dangerous persons through the site. As discussed in a previous Inquisitrarticle, one should take take safety measures when doing business on Craigslist.
Tahreem Zeus Rana is currently being held in the Fulton County Jail. In addition to murder, he is charged with arson and kidnapping.