Father accused of fatally shooting teenage daughter and her cousin

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The mother of 18-year-old Vanessa Zaman, who was killed alongside her cousin in Henrico County last week, says the man wanted for her murder is her father, according to WTVR.

Henrico Police say that 39-year-old Abdool Z. Zaman is wanted on two warrants of second-degree murder, but that those charges will likely be upgraded once he is apprehended and interviewed. They say he should be considered armed and dangerous.

Police said Vanessa Zaman and Leona Samlall were shot as they walked near an apartment building. Investigators say Zaman got out of his car and confronted the girls before shooting them in what appeared to be a fit of rage, sources said.

Crime insider sources say Samlall was briefly on a missing persons list in 2016, but later showed up safe in the Orlando, Florida area.

Those sources said Samlall is believed to have returned home to Henrico fleeing a rocky relationship.

Saveeda Barnes, who lives in New York, is devastated about the loss of her first born and only daughter Vanessa who she says reconnected with her father last year.

“Vanessa grew up under my love and care, until she was 18. Not too long ago, she researched and somehow found her dad. The two connected and were in contact for a while. Around late December 2017, Vanessa and I spoke about selecting colleges. She told me that she was going to Florida. She invited her dad to her HS graduation where he turned her down,” said Barnes.

“Vanessa was loved more than she knew. Even though Vanessa seemed as though she had everything in the world, she still had an empty space in her heart a space that could never be filled (her dad, Abdool Z. Zaman),” Barnes added.

Barnes said her daughter, who was an award-winning writer, graduated in the top of her class at her Long Island, New York high school.

Dr. Mary T. Kelly, Superintendent of Amityville Union Free School District, provided WTVR with the following statement:

“The district is deeply saddened to learn of the tragic death of Vanessa Zaman who graduated from Amityville High School in June 2018. Vanessa was actively involved in school, loved English and was a prolific writer. She was very well-liked by students and staff. She will truly be missed.

Support services are available for students and staff as they try to cope with this devastating loss.

"Our thoughts are with her family and friends during this difficult time.”

“Vanessa was also a very smart girl and had a passion for writing,” said Vanessa’s best friend Nyah Seiferheld. “She would stay up many nights creating stories with her wild imagination. She was so hard working and had that ‘go getter’ mentality. She was always thinking of a way to better her life and take it to the next level.”

“Ness meant the world to me and for this to happen to her was the most devastating thing ever. She was such a sweet genuine person and always put her family and friends first,” said Seiferheld.

Vanessa Zaman leaves behind a 9-year-old step-sister and a two-year-old half-brother.

“Ness was definitely a well-loved person and we all miss her greatly. I just love her much more than she would ever know. She didn’t deserve what happened to her,” said Seiferheld.

Officers said Zaman, who was described as 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighing 160 pounds, may be driving a silver Toyota Avalon or a gray 2009 Toyota Carolla Matrix with Florida tags 211-1RWM.

Police noted that the suspect has a New York driver's license, but lives in Orlando, Florida.

Crime Insider sources said the FBI is involved to help with certain pieces of crucial evidence in the double murder case.

Henrico Police have not released a photo of Zaman citing the integrity of the ongoing investigation.  They say they appreciate the patience of the public while they work through this case.

If you have information that could help detectives, call Henrico Police at 804-501-5000 or Metro Richmond Crime Stoppers at 804-780-1000. Citizens can also download the “P3 Tips” app to their mobile devices and submit their tip. Both Crime Stoppers methods are anonymous.

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