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Dad accused of murdering teen daughter, niece, found dead in Henrico jail

Dad accused of murdering teen daughter, niece, found dead in Henrico jail
Posted at 6:20 PM, Dec 13, 2019
and last updated 2019-12-13 23:16:23-05

HENRICO COUNTY, Va. -- The father accused of shooting and killing his daughter and niece in December of 2018 died by suicide in Henrico Jail East on Friday, according to Henrico County Sheriff Elect, Alisa Gregory.

“It’s always a shock with you hear of an inmate death," said Gregory.

Gregory said the New Kent County Sheriff's Office is investigating the incident since the jail is in the county and jail staff are being evaluated for any trauma they may have experienced.

The death of Abdool Zaman comes exactly one year after he allegedly shot the teenagers to death as they walked in Highland Springs. His 15-day-trial was set to begin in August of 2020.

Police said Vanessa Zaman and Leona Samlall were shot as they walked near the Oakmeade Apartments on Airport Drive and East Nine Mile Road in Highland Springs on December 13, 2018. Investigators say Zaman got out of his car and confronted the girls before shooting them in what appeared to be a fit of rage.

After the shooting, police say Zaman fled to Queens, New York where he was captured on December 18, 2018.

In April of 2019, Zaman was indicted on two counts of capital murder, along with the use of a firearm in the commission of a felony first and second offense.

Abdool Zaman, Vanessa Zaman, and Leona Samlall

In an April 2019 interview with CBS 6, Zaman's mother Saveeta Barnes said she had a short relationship with Vanessa's father but ended it when her daughter was a toddler.

The mother was devastated about the loss of her firstborn and only daughter Vanessa who she said reconnected with her father in Florida just one year before she was killed.

"She wanted that relationship with him and she was seeking a love that wasn’t there," Barnes said in April.

She said the cousins ran from an abusive situation in Florida to Henrico along with Leona's baby. That baby was fathered by Samlall's uncle, Abdool Zaman, according to Barnes.

"I never ever thought in a million years that she would die in the hands of her own father," Barnes added. "I still think it’s a bad dream. I think I'm going to wake up tomorrow and see it’s the worst dream I ever had."

This is a developing story. Stay with CBS 6 News for the latest.