(Left) Tahreem Zeus Rana, 23 and (right) Vernicia Woodard, 26.

An Atlanta police officer is accused of murdering a woman he met on Craigslist, and shooting her multiple times before lighting her body on fire.

Atlanta police officer Tahreem Zeus Rana, 23, was arrested Aug. 28 at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport while attempting to escape to Mexico after allegedly murdering Vernicia Woodard, 26, according to Atlanta CBS affiliate WGCL.

Police said a city employee found the body of a woman on fire at the end of Elm Street in the Atlanta suburb of Hapeville on Aug. 22.

Rana and Woodard initially met on Craigslist for a “romantic exchange” according to the television station, and met in person the same night Woodard was killed.

“First he took her to a secluded area to do the crime and then after killing her, he used some kind of fuel to light the body on fire in order to cover up any type of evidence that may be there,” Hapeville Police Detective Stephen Cushing told WGCL.

Rana worked as an Atlanta Police Department officer for three years. According to personnel records obtained by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, he had no major disciplinary problems in that time.

Cushing told Atlanta ABC affiliate WSB-TV that Rana was a native of Hapeville and several local officers have known Rana since he was a child.

“I’ve been a police officer in the city of Hapeville for 15 years and actually saw this young man grow up and heard him say, ‘When I grow up, I want to be a police officer,” Cushing told the television station.

Atlanta police quickly moved to strip Rana of his position.

“We are shocked and saddened by these developments. The officer has been relieved from duty, and is in a non-enforcement status,” Atlanta Police Department Public Affairs Director Carlos Campos told WGCL. “We must allow the justice system to run its course. But these clearly are very disturbing allegations that are not in line with the expectations we have for our officers, and will be immediately dealt with.”

Courtney Jacobs

AFRO Staff Writer