Montgomery County police said a 62-year-old statistics expert from Tennessee traveled to Maryland over the weekend and was involved in the killing of his ex-wife.
Baldeo Taneja was arrested in Nashville in connection with the slaying of Preeta Paul Gabba, 49, who was fatally shot Saturday morning on a Germantown street.
Police said they have issued warrants charging Taneja with first-degree murder and conspiracy to commit first-degree murder. Taneja’s current wife, Raminder Kaur, 63, faces the same charges, police said.
About 7:45 a.m. Saturday, several people around the Hamptons apartment complex called police to report gunshots, authorities said. Officers found Gabba, 49, wounded on Crystal Rock Drive. An umbrella and other personal belongings were alongside her.
Police said several witnesses reported that a woman was seen walking near the victim at the time of the shooting, but she left before officers arrived.
Daniel Wright, a Montgomery County lawyer who represented Gabba in divorce proceedings, said his client and Taneja had a “high-conflict divorce.”
The couple married in 2002 in India but separated in 2010 when Taneja moved in with his girlfriend, according to court papers in the divorce case.
Both Taneja and Gabba claimed that the other was abusive. Taneja said Gabba was trying to control him and his business associates, while Gabba said Taneja physically abused her, according to court records.
Montgomery County police said Taneja had been scheduled to appear in a court in Montgomery Oct. 10 in a matter related to the divorce but failed to show up. He and Kaur were in the county on Friday and Saturday, police said. Police also said the couple had purchased two firearms in Nashville last month.
Police in Nashville said in a news release that officers found two pistols in the couple’s car on Sunday. The pair is being held in Tennessee, awaiting extradition to Maryland, police said.
Raj Singh, Taneja’s divorce attorney, said Taneja and Kaur were in the D.C. area over the weekend on business and were in the District — not Maryland — “for a good part of the morning” Gabba died. Taneja did not show up for the Oct. 10 hearing because attorneys had agreed to a continuance in the case, Singh said.
Court papers show that Taneja, a U.S. citizen, moved from India to the United States in 2007 and found a job in Boston. Gabba came to the country in 2008, but upon her arrival, Taneja asked her to stay in a hotel.
The two eventually made their way to Maryland. Wright said Gabba came to him seeking a divorce. The couple reached a settlement and worked out an alimony arrangement, according to Wright. As part of the settlement, Wright said, Gabba was able to keep an apartment they had in India, and Taneja was able to keep an Amway business they had in India.
Wright said Gabba was “a wonderful, warm person. She always had a smile.”
He said that Gabba has at least one child, a son. Wright said she did not own a car and took the bus everywhere. She did clerical work at a moving and storage company in Rockville, making $10 an hour, Wright said.
Gabba wanted to attend community college and get a job in the health-care industry, aspiring to stand on her “own feet,” according to court papers.
Taneja received a doctorate from Ohio State University in 1982. In an online profile, he described himself as a “biostatistician with more than 20 years’ experience in academia, government and industry.” The profile said he had worked for pharmaceutical and biotech companies based in Rockville, starting in at least 2008.
Taneja had fallen behind in his alimony payments, but more recently was only two months behind, according to Wright.
Singh said Taneja had been laid off and moved to find work. Taneja had plans to pay the back alimony after finding a new job in Tennessee, Singh said.
He said it doesn’t make sense for Taneja and Kaur to be involved in Gabba’s death.
“He’s a statistician,” Singh said. “He’s not a dumb guy. He has a PhD. Something isn’t adding up.”
Samantha Raphelson contributed to this report.