Nashville couple charged with murder of Germantown woman -- Gazette.Net


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This story was updated on Oct. 16, 2013, and corrected on Oct. 17, 2013. An explanation follows the story.

A former Montgomery County man has been charged with murdering his ex-wife with the help of his current wife.

Baldeo Taneja and Raminder Kaur traveled to Germantown last week and shot Preeta Paul Gabba, Taneja’s former wife, as she walked on Crystal Rock Drive at around 7:45 a.m. Saturday, Montgomery County Police said.

After receiving reports of gunshots, police said they found Gabba, 49, sprawled in the road, suffering from “at least” one gunshot wound. Rescue personnel took her to a local hospital, where she died, according to a police statement about the shooting.

TV news teams aired video clips of police picking up her belongings — an umbrella, bags, a sandwich — off the wet roadway.

Police said Taneja, 62, was due to appear in court in Montgomery County on a domestic issue two days before the shooting, but he did not show up.

“That kind of got our attention, that he was going to be in our area,” Montgomery County Police Capt. Jim Daly said.

Daniel Wright, Gabba’s lawyer in her divorce, said that the hearing had been over Taneja’s alimony payments. Taneja had fallen behind on the payments several months ago, but had agreed to begin paying them again after getting a new job in Tennessee, Wright said.

Although Taneja did not show up at the hearing, his lawyer was there, and Taneja didn’t need to be there, Wright said.

Taneja and Gabba married in Pune, India, in 2002. It was Gabba’s second marriage, Wright said.

Gabba had a son, now in his 20s, Wright said.

Gabba and Taneja’s marriage was a tumultuous one, marked occasionally by violence. They separated in September 2009, and the divorce was finalized in 2011, Wright said.

Court records show that Gabba lived in an apartment on Crystal Rock Drive. During their divorce proceedings, Taneja was listed in court records as having a Silver Spring address.

Investigators learned that Taneja and Kaur, 63, bought two guns in Nashville late last month, and were in Montgomery County on Friday and Saturday, according to a news release.

Detectives flew to Tennessee and arrested Taneja and Kaur there, with help from Metropolitan Nashville Police Department homicide detectives and SWAT team members, Daly said.

Detectives charged Kaur and Taneja with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. As of Monday, the couple were incarcerated in Nashville, awaiting extradition to Montgomery County.

Kaur and Taneja were being held on $500,000 bond each, according to a news release from the city of Nashville.

Police recovered two pistols from their car, the release said.

Raj Singh, Taneja’s attorney, said Taneja, a Hindu, and Kaur, a Sikh, are from northern India.

“I’m kind of surprised. I just learned about it today,” he said Monday of the charges against his client.

Courts were closed on Monday, but according to online Tennessee court records, Kaur and Taneja were charged as “fugitives.”

Taneja worked as the director of Biostatistics & Clinical Data Management at DP Clinical Inc. in Rockville, before moving to Tennessee, according to his LinkedIn page. Calls to his neighbors were not answered Monday.

An employee at DP Clinical declined to speak to The Gazette about Taneja, saying it was the company’s policy not to talk about former employees.

Taneja, a statistician at a large company in Tennessee, told Singh he would be in Montgomery County for a business conference this past weekend, Singh said.

Wright said Gabba came to him several times, concerned about her safety.

“She was very much afraid of him,” Wright said, recounting stories Gabba told him about receiving harrassing phone calls late at night and of returning home to find one of her windows smashed. After the separation, Wright said, Gabba reported that her ex-husband had attacked her and broken into her home.

In documents related to Gabba’s petition for a divorce, she wrote that Taneja physically abused her when the two were living in India “at least eight times.”

Taneja was frustrated with his business and family issues, she wrote. “He would vent all those frustrations on me,” adding later, “because of Indian culture, it remained a secret. I will no longer keep quiet about it, however.”

According to Singh, Taneja accused Gabba of infidelities.

Singh said he had not spoken with Taneja since the charges were filed against him.

Gabba worked at the Kensington-based Cross Country Moving and Storage, Wright said. She took the bus everywhere because she did not own a car, he said.

A woman who answered the phone at Cross Country Moving and Storage said Gabba’s slaying left her stunned.

“I still don’t believe it. I still expect to see her come in,” she said.

The woman did not want to be identified by name, but said people call her “Mika.”

She and Gabba worked together the last year and a half.

“Never in my life have I had an employee like her,” she said.

She learned of Gabba’s death after texting her on Saturday about one of the company’s clients. When Gabba didn’t answer, she sent another text, she said.

“Please, I worry about you,” she said she wrote. “And then the police called me.”

sjbsmith@gazette.net

An earlier version of this story had the names of the suspects reversed in the photo captions.