NORRISTOWN — A Lansdale man has pleaded not guilty to charges he abused the corpse of a friend, after the friend died at his home, by wrapping the body in a large trash bag and placing it in the trunk of the dead man’s vehicle before abandoning it on a parking lot.
Shamsuzzaman Mollah, 35, of the first block of Elm Drive, entered the not guilty plea when he waived his arraignment on the charges in Montgomery County Court. A judge will now set a trial date for Mollah, who remains free on bail pending trial.
Specifically, Mollah faces charges of abuse of corpse, unauthorized use of a motor vehicle and theft by unlawful taking in connection with an alleged April 29, 2018, incident related to the death of 33-year-old Daniel Torres, a Quakertown, Bucks County, man who operated a Bridgeport barbershop.
If he’s convicted of all the charges at trial, Mollah faces a possible maximum sentence of 4½ to 9 years in prison.
Assistant District Attorney Scott Frame is handling the case. Defense lawyer Anita Seth represents Mollah.
An investigation began on May 3, 2018, when Torres’ mother reported her son missing to Pennsylvania State Police. Torres’ mother told police Torres was last seen alive on April 29 and that he was at Mollah’s residence, according to the criminal complaint filed by Lansdale Detective Nicholas Oropeza and county Detective James Reape.
A #Lansdale man has pleaded not guilty to charges he allegedly abused the corpse of a friend, after the friend died at his home, by wrapping the body in a large trash bag & placing it in the trunk of the dead man’s vehicle before abandoning itUpdate coming from #MontcoPa #Court— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) August 3, 2020
On May 9, Lansdale police responded to the parking lot of the Twin Pines Apartment complex in the 700 block of North Valley Forge Road after a resident there reported that a white Nissan Altima vehicle hadn’t been moved since being parked there about 6:50 p.m. April 29 by a person wearing a hooded sweatshirt. The resident reported the occupant exited the vehicle with the hood up over his head and synched closed and then walked toward Eighth Street, according to court papers.
“Investigation revealed the strong odor of decomposition emitting from the trunk of the Nissan,” Oropeza and Reape wrote in the criminal complaint, adding Torres’ body was found in the trunk of the vehicle that was owned by Torres. “Torres’ body was contained inside a large black trash bag.”
An autopsy determined that “although the body was in decomposition, there were no signs of trauma.”
Toxicology tests uncovered the presence of opioids and ethanol in Torres’ bloodstream, leading a forensic pathologist to opine that Torres may have died from opioid and ethanol intoxication, according to the criminal complaint. The cause and manner of death were ruled undetermined.
Shamsuzzaman Mollah, 35, of #Lansdale entered the not guilty plea when he waived his arraignment on charges of abuse of corpse in #MontcoPa #Court. A judge will now set a trial date for Mollah, who remains free on bail pending trial.Update coming @LansReporter @MercuryX— Carl Hessler Jr. (@MontcoCourtNews) August 3, 2020
Detectives subsequently interviewed Mollah, who initially told authorities Torres slept at his residence on the evening of April 28 into the morning hours of April 29 after the pair had been out with another friend at the Creekside Cabaret in Colmar, according to the arrest affidavit.
Detectives uncovered video surveillance from cameras in the area of the Twin Pines Apartments and Mollah’s residence and also analyzed cellphone records that assisted them in the investigation, according to court documents.
A search of Mollah’s residence by investigators uncovered a box of “contractor clean-up bags.”
“The bag is identical in shape, color and design as the bag that was found to contain the body of Daniel Torres,” Oropeza and Reape alleged in the criminal complaint.
Mollah, detectives learned, was under the supervision of county adult probation officials at the time of the alleged incident.
Based upon the evidence recovered, detectives alleged that Mollah was present on April 29 when Torres died inside the Elm Drive residence from ethanol and opioid intoxication, according to the arrest affidavit.
“Following his death, Mollah secreted Torres’ body inside the trunk of his Nissan Altima, fearing his connection to Torres’ death may cause a violation of his Montgomery County probation,” Oropeza and Reape alleged.
Mollah then drove Torres’ vehicle to the Twin Pines Apartment parking lot and abandoned it there, detectives alleged.