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Atlanta Cop Murdered Woman, Set Body On Fire: Police

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Atlanta Police
Atlanta Police

Authorities say an Atlanta police officer killed a woman that he met online, then set her body on fire to cover his tracks.

Tahreem Zeus Rana was arrested Thursday at Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport in Atlanta, where authorities said he was trying to board a flight to Mexico. Rana is an officer with the Atlanta Police Department. He has been removed from duty and will face murder, kidnapping and arson charges, police said.

As a suspect in the murder, Rana was placed on a no-fly list, then allowed to cross through airport security to ensure he was not armed before police arrested him, WGCL reports.

The victim is 26-year-old Vernicia Woodward, who recently moved to Atlanta from New York. She was linked to Rana through her phone records, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution. The two appear to have met on Backpage.com, a classified ad website that is often used to facilitate romantic encounters.

Hapeville police said her body was found by a city employee Aug. 22. She had been shot several times and set on fire.

"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.

WSB reports that Woodward has an 8-year-old daughter.

"It hurts a lot more to know that it was somebody in law enforcement," the victim's sister, Tashara Gilyard, told the station.

Rana has been with the Atlanta Police since 2011, and was described as a hard-working officer with a clean disciplinary record.

"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," Atlanta Police Department Public Affairs Director Carlos Campos said, according to CBS News.

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