An Atlanta police officer was busted attempting to skip town Thursday, almost one week after he kidnapped an African-American woman he met online, took her to a secluded suburban area, shot her and then set her dead body on fire, authorities said.
Tahreem Zeus Rana, 23, was captured around 8:30 a.m. Thursday after he attempted to board a flight to Monterey, Mexico, perhaps en route to India.
The murder suspect was on the no-fly list, policemen said, and has been fired.
Rana met 26-year old Vernicia Woodard on Backpage.com for a “romantic exchange” in Rana’s hometown of Hapeville, a southern Atlanta suburb. Rana took Woodard to a secluded section of town, shot on her several times, and then lit her on fire, authorities said.
A city worker discovered the burning body on Elm Street the morning of Aug. 22, the news station reported.
Authorities think Rana’s service weapon was used to kill Woodard, mother of an 8-year old child. Rana became the prime suspect after the Woodard’s telephone records led investigators to Backpage.com and, eventually, to Rana.
Authorities released a “wanted” poster featuring Rana’s image on Wednesday.
The homicide comes as a jolt to Hapeville police officers, who remembered observing Rana grow up in the community. Rana had a clean disciplinary file.
Rana faces charges of murder, arson, and tampering with evidence.
“We are shocked and saddened by these developments,” the Atlanta Police Department said.