Vanessa Zaman, the 18-year-old daughter of New Hyde Park bank employee Saveeta Barnes, was killed alongside her cousin in an apparent drive-by shooting in Highland Springs, Va.
Abdool Zaman, Vanessa’s 39-year-old father, was arrested in Queens on Tuesday and charged with two counts of second-degree murder. Zaman is fighting extradition to Virginia, authorities said.
Efforts to reach Zaman’s attorney were unavailing.
At Vanessa’s wake held Thursday at the New Hyde Park Funeral Home friends, family and members of the Greater New Hyde Park Chamber of Commerce provided an outpouring of support for a grief-stricken Barnes, an employee of People’s United Bank who serves as chamber secretary.
Vanessa was cremated privately Friday following a service at Incarnation Parish in Queens Village.
“She was full of life,” Barnes said. Vanessa paid the ultimate price in protecting her cousin, she said at the wake.
Vanessa was raised by Barnes, but shortly after her graduation from Amityville High School reconnected with Zaman, her estranged biological father, and moved to Orlando, Fla. to live with him, according to published reports.
Barnes said in an interview with The Daily Beast that Vanessa had long asked to meet her biological father.
“I tried to give Vanessa the world,” Barnes told The Daily Beast. “But it didn’t matter because getting the chance to know her dad was everything to her.”
“Vanessa and I spoke about selecting colleges last year and she told me that she was going to Florida after school, but I didn’t really believe her until she was about to leave a couple of months ago,” the Daily Beast quoted Barnes as saying. “I know she invited her dad to her high school graduation where he turned her down.”
When Zaman arrived in Florida, Abdool was living with his 18-year-old niece Leona Samlall, and a three-month-old baby, said Barnes. The two girls were cousins. Samlall’s mother was married to Zaman’s brother.
Vanessa learned Abdool had the baby with his niece, according to published reports.
“She called me horrified that her cousin and father had a child together but also seemed content that she was final with both of them,” the Daily Beast reported Barnes as saying.
Investigators are working to confirm whether or not Abdoll and Samlall are the child’s biological parents, Henrico Commonwealth’s Attorney Shannon Tyler said.
Vanessa Zaman became concerned for Samlall’s safety and decided the two and the child should move to Highland Springs to stay with Samlall’s mother and stepfather, the Richmond Times-Dispatch quoted Barnes as saying.
That move occurred a week before both girls were killed. The infant is now with Samlall’s mother.
The pair were walking outside the Oakmeade Apartments in Highland Springs, a block away from where they were staying, Barnes was quoted as saying, when they were shot and left to die the afternoon of Thursday, Dec. 13.
The medical examiner’s office determined the cause of death for both teenagers to be gunshot wounds to the head and ruled the deaths homicides.
Abdool Zaman was identified by authorities as a suspect and a warrant was issued for Abdool’s arrest on charges of murder, setting off a nationwide manhunt.
On Tuesday, Abdool Zaman was arrested in Queens without incident after New York City police and U.S. Marshall’s responded to a tip of his whereabouts, The Daily Beast reported, citing a senior New York City law enforcement officer.
Barnes said she spoke on the phone with her daughter the morning of the shooting.
Barnes cautioned Vanessa to be careful, and they spoke about her 2-year-old half-brother during the call.
“Tell my brother I love him very much,” were Vanessa’s last words to her mother, according to the Richmond Times-Dispatch.
“My heart is torn into a million pieces,” Barnes said in an Instagram post. “I cannot bring myself to accept the reality of losing my love, my child, my firstborn, my everything.”
A GoFundMe page has been set up by Barnes to create a memorial to her daughter and Samlall.
Abdool Zaman is currently being held at Vernon C. Bain Center in the Bronx.
A judge in Queens County Criminal Court assigned attorney Arielle Adams to Zaman. Zaman has had previous runs in with police in Florida, including charges for stalking and resisting arrest in 2015 that were ultimately dropped, according to authorities in Florida.