APD officer arrested after trying to flee country

ATLANTA -- An Atlanta police officer is under arrest, accused of killing a woman he met online, then burning her body to cover it up.

Tahreem Zeus Rana was arrested Thursday morning at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Police say he had purchased a ticket to Monterey, Mexico early that morning, just hours after Hapeville police had questioned him in the murder.

Friday morning, Rana waived his first court appearance. He is being held in jail without bond on charges of murder, kidnapping and arson.

Detective Stephen Cushing says Rana responded to a Craigslist ad posted by Valencia Woodard. The two had several conversations before agreeing to meet last Friday around Tucker.

Cushing says Rana picked her up, then for some reason brought her to a dead end street in Hapeville less than a mile away from his house, and shot her several times.

Detectives believe he used his work-issued .40 caliber Glock in the crime.

"We are sending that weapon to the GBI for confirmation on that," said Cushing.

Cushing says they also found the same type of shell casings at the crime scene as in his bedroom and the GBI is searching his car and computer to determine if there were any other violent encounters.

Police say Woodard had just moved to Georgia from New York and had been here less than a week before she died.

Police say her 8-year old daughter lives in East Point with her grandmother. It may be why she was visiting in January, when DeKalb County police arrested Woodard for prostitution and marijuana possession.

Rana had been put on the no-fly list Wednesday after his interview with Hapeville police. When he purchased the ticket to Mexico, officers received an alert. They waited for him to pass through security to make sure he didn't have a weapons before making an arrest.

Officers say Rana was traveling light, alone and with several hundred dollars in cash.

Until now, Rana's disciplinary record was limited to three investigations for traffic violations.

But Atlanta Police Chief Turner released a statement saying:

"We are shocked and saddened by these developments. The officer has been relieved from duty, and is in a non-enforcement status. Chief Turner will schedule an emergency hearing immediately today to determine the next course of action. 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."

Cushing says Rana grew up in Hapeville and had one dream as a child.

"Officers remember him actually walking to school here as a young boy saying when I grow up I want to be a police officer," said Cushing.


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