Celebratory plans by a Gasparillo family for a wedding this weekend have now turned into agony and grief after auto rental and services businessman Anand Maharaj was murdered.
The 60-year-old man’s body was discovered wrapped in clear plastic bound with duct tape under the couch of the suspect’s apartment on Saturday night.
The 23-year-old suspect is in police custody.
Maharaj, the owner of Triple A Auto Services Ltd, left his Jeffers Lane, Charles Street home around 1 pm on Saturday to deliver a silver-grey Nissan Note at the home of the suspect who lived less than ten minutes away. The suspect was supposed to have dropped Maharaj back home. Police said he also had more than $20,000 on him as he went to purchase US currency from the suspect.
However, Maharaj’s wife became suspicious after she received strange cellphone messages from her husband and several calls to his phone went unanswered. The Gasparillo police were contacted around 7 pm and went to the suspect’s home at Rawlins Avenue, San Fabien Road.
The man claimed Maharaj dropped off the Nissan Note and another vehicle picked him up. The police took the suspect to the station where they further questioned him. Police said around 10.30 pm a team of police officers led by Insp Ishmael took him back to his apartment to search for clues.
The officers observed a roll of duct tape on a couch. When they moved the couch, Maharaj’s wrapped body was found underneath. It is believed that Maharaj may have been strangled.
While investigators suspect that robbery might be the motive, they are still investigating.
Guardian Media was told that the suspect moved into the apartment less than a year ago and lived with his wife and two children. However, they were not around when the police went to his home. Speaking with Guardian Media at Maharaj’s home yesterday, his brother Taran said Maharaj did not usually go on jobs on his own, but he had rented vehicles to the suspect previously. He said the family was preparing for his niece’s wedding on Sunday.
“That wedding was supposed to be Easter Sunday last year and the lockdown took place about a week and a half after that and the wedding had to be postponed and they finally put it for Sunday that is coming. And we have another lockdown again and worst of all now the uncle of the child who is getting married is murdered.”
Recalling that the last conversation with his brother on Saturday, he said, “He said things real slow. The rental is slow and the auto repairs is very slow. He was saying he don’t know what to do, he may have to diversify or something.”
Taran described his brother as a very hard worker, who served in the police force for about three years and then worked as a plant operator before he was retrenched.
“Then he started his business. He is a very hard worker. He had tried everything from lawn maintenance to car repairs, to car rentals he tried everything and he did well.”
As news of his murder broke yesterday morning, several members of the community took to social media expressing their shock and sadness.
Many people described him as a kind and generous person.
Maharaj was a member of the Gasparillo Chamber of Commerce. Chamber president Anil Ramjit said his murder has left the business community very disturbed and saddened.
Condemning the acts of violence against business people, he appealed to Police Commissioner Gary Griffith to make Firearm Users Licenses readily available to legitimate and deserving business people. He also praised the police for their swift response.