New Castle County detectives have charged Benjamin Rauf, 25, with the murder of a Hockessin man.
“An extensive three-week investigation, which included the collection of physical evidence, helped detectives identify Rauf as a suspect,” said Sergeant Gus Zeissig, with the criminal investigations unit, during a news conference Wednesday.
Zeissig said New York State Police arrested Rauf as he was leaving his upstate New York home on Monday night. A gun was also recovered from the home, Zeissig said, adding that investigators have ballistic evidence that matches the crime scene in Delaware.
Last month, New Castle County police officers were called to the parking lot of Genesis Healthcare in the 100 block of St. Claire Drive in Hockessin. The 911 caller told police a black Audi A8 had been parked there for an unusually long time.
Arriving officers found the body of Shazim Uppal, 27, in the driver’s seat with several gunshot wounds to the upper torso. Police said Uppal and his family lived in the neighborning Hockessin Chase neighborhood.
“Investigators concluded the death was not a random act of violence as a substantial amount of marijuana was recovered from the inside of the vehicle belonging to the victim,” said Zeissig, who described Rauf and Uppal as “friends,” having met while both studied at Temple University in Philadelphia.
“The break in the case — the victim and the suspect knew each other — so it was a matter of tracing down leads, ruling out some alibis for other suspects and very quickly the investigation started to focus on our suspect,” said Zeissig, who does not think anyone else was involved.
Rauf, who has a criminal drug history, was charged with murder and possession of a deadly weapon during the commission of a felony. Zeissig said at this time robbery appears to be the motive, but many in the community have questioned why the car wasn’t taken if that was the case. Zeissig said the charge is pending as his detectives continue to follow up.
Rauf is currently behind bars in New York awaiting extradition.
Chief of Police Col. E.M. Setting credited his department’s working relationship with the attorney general’s office for the quick arrest.
“By bringing them in on the ground floor of these investigations and not waiting, letting them see the interviews, letting them be there with us each step of the way through the forensics, we have had some very successful cases and this one is no different,” Setting said.