Two 18-year-old girls, Vanessa Zaman and her cousin, Leona Samlall, were shot and killed in Highland Springs, Virginia, near their apartment complex. The alleged killer is 39-year-old Abdool Zaman, the father of Vanessa Zaman.
Vanessa had been living on Long Island in New York with her mother Saveeta Barnes. She had decided to move to Florida in October 2018, to live with Abdool Zaman once she turned 18. Leona Samlall was currently living with Abdool in his Florida home when Vanessa moved in. According to Vanessa’s mother, Abdool had fathered a child with his niece Leona.
During her time in the home, Vanessa had voiced concern for Leona’s safety. Saveeta Barnes indicated that there had been abuse in the home from conversations with Vanessa. Both Vanessa and Leona eventually left the father’s Florida home and moved to Leona’s mother’s apartment in Virginia.
Police investigations report that Abdool followed the two girls and the infant child to Virginia. About a week after the girls arrived, Abdool confronted the girls in front of an apartment complex and began to argue. The contentious meeting escalated and Abdool shot both girls in the head. After the shooting, Abdool fled from Virginia to New York City. He was found and captured approximately five days after the shootings.
Abdool Zaman now faces two capital murder charges. This level of charge is brought against those who kill in an extremely cruel manner, or equally heinous crimes like rape or the killing of pregnant women. These laws usually result in a death penalty, with the choice of electrocution or lethal injection given to the convicted.
Saveeta Barnes set up a GoFundMe account for the girls, saying, “Vanessa tried to protect her and an innocent baby. Vanessa was protecting 2 other souls. She told me, ‘Mom, I’m going to give you 18 years of my life. I want to give my dad the next 18. Apparently, she gave him her entire life.”
Barnes said that “every day is torture without Vanessa.” She believed her ex-husband to be an ‘evil person’ and had tried to warn Vanessa that he was not a good person, but Vanessa loved him and wanted him in her life. Barnes said she hopes he gets the death penalty, as it is what he deserves for his crimes.