Anand Maharaj

BODY HIDDEN BENEATH COUCH: Anand Maharaj

Gasparillo auto-rental and service businessman Anand Maharaj was killed at the home of a man where he went to conduct business on Saturday.

Police found the body of Maharaj, 60, wrapped in plastic and concealed beneath a couch in the rented apartment of the customer.

Detectives of Homicide Region III have detained the customer—a 23 year-old man who began residing last year at the apartment with his wife and two children.

Police found the rental Nissan Note in the yard of the suspect’s apartment at San Fabien Road, and detained him around 7 p.m., for questioning.

It was initially suspected that Maharaj was the victim of a kidnapping, but, some three hours after detaining the suspect detectives returned to the apartment and discovered the businessman’s body.

The suspect’s wife and children were not at the apartment that evening, the Express was told.

It is suspected that the killer had wrapped Maharaj’s body in the plastic and had intended to dispose of it later that night.

Maharaj was the owner of Triple A Auto Services Ltd which he operated out of his home at Jeffers Lane, Charles Street.

He left home shortly after 1 p.m. to deliver a Nissan Note, and purchase US currency.

Around 6 p.m., Maharaj’s wife received what was described as “disturbing” messages to her phone and contacted Maharaj’s brother, Taran Maharaj.

Taran said the suspect was a repeat customer, so his brother went to deliver the vehicle unaccompanied.

The family attempted to track Maharaj’s phone and the vehicle, and the GPS located the car at San Fabien Road.

Taran, the owner of Bones Supermarket, at Ste Madeleine, said, “I got a call from his wife just before 7 p.m. and she said she was getting disturbing texts from his phone. She called the phone but he did not answer. A worker did not get through either. One of the workers went with the police to show where the car was taken.”

The customer produced the keys to the rental vehicle, but allegedly told detectives that Maharaj left in a white Toyota Hilux.

“Apparently they killed him in the house. About 11 p.m. police went to the house and found him dead, wrapped in plastic, body was under a couch. The texts said that he would buy dinner for his family. And then something about US dollars. Bringing dinner was normal but the other one— his wife knew that was not his text. His messages did not read like that. Then I texted him about 6.10 p.m. because one of the former managers at Fertrin where we worked before had died. I sent a picture to him on WhatsApp, and the message was read. Someone else read the message, not him. We kept trying to call him but it was turned off,” said the brother.

Family in anguish

Taran said that the family was awaiting the results of the autopsy to find out how his brother was killed, but he learned that neighbours did not hear any gunshots, screams, or signs of a struggle.

Taran was the victim of crime several times, shot and killed a bandit who had was one of four men who invaded his home at Ste Madeleine two years ago. He said his niece is to be married on Sunday, but that the tragedy has the family in anguish and there was no certainty over the wedding. “This has thrown everything off. It is a Hindu wedding so he was expected to be a member of the baraat to go to the groom’s house. The wedding was postponed last year from Easter Sunday because of lockdown measures. Finally put it for Sunday coming. Then we got another lockdown. But worst of all, the uncle of the bride is murdered. The family is yet to decide on whether things will go forward,” said the brother. Taran said his brother built his business “from scratch”, after working several jobs in his life. He said he was employed as a police officer, was a plant manager at Fertrin and then PCS Nitrogen, a landscaper and then an auto rental and service dealer. “He had a good relationship with the police. I was here yesterday around midday. He said things were real slow–auto rentals and repairs were slow. He said he was thinking of diversifying his business. “He was a very hard worker. He tried everything from lawn maintenance to car repairs to car rentals. His three children are well educated. He had a lot of security—a camera system, burglar-proofing everywhere, GPS on all the vehicles—everything he could have thought about,” said Taran.

Officers of Region III homicide are continuing investigations.

RECOMMENDED FOR YOU

Trinidad and Tobago is now at the height of the spike.

That spike, says Chief Medical Officer (CMO) Dr Roshan Parasram, is T&T’s deadliest third wave of Covid-19.

He predicts that it’s going to get worse before it gets better.

Trinidad and Tobago is now under a state of emergency.

A curfew is also in effect, requiring citizens to stay in their homes between the hours of 9 p.m. and 5 a.m., with exceptions made for essential workers.

Prime Minister Dr Keith Rowley announced the measures yesterday, one day after the business community called for an state of emergency and curfew to be implemented in an effort to bring the Covid-19 case count under control.

The parallel healthcare system is at near capacity, even as hundreds of new Covid-19 cases are being reported daily.

Speaking at a news conference yesterday, Dr Maryam Abdool-Richards, Principal Medical Officer, Institutions, noted that more people are being admitted to hospital daily than those being discharged.

Young people are most hesitant about taking the Covid-19 vaccine, while those aged 65 and older are more likely than any other age group to express interest in getting it.

This is according to data of a 2021 Consumer Economic Study (CES) conducted by Market Facts & Opinions (2000) Ltd (MFO) over the period April 14 to May 3, 2021.

Respondents were asked to indicate their perceptions of the Covid-19 vaccine, and whether they were prepared to be vaccinated.

It is not easy being a parent during a pandemic.

Juggling a job, school from home and other responsibilities during the Covid-19 pandemic is continuing to take a toll on parents and caregivers, experts have said.