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Authorities: Florida Man Accused of Kidnapping Daughter, Employing Brass Knuckles and Knife in Ex-Girlfriend’s Murder

Renato Muhaj Mugshot (Pinellas County Sheriffs Office)

A series of horrifying events unfolded in Florida on Monday, resulting in murder, kidnapping, and a frantic search for an 8-year-old girl. Authorities reported that a 34-year-old man, Renato Muhaj, allegedly initiated the chaos by assaulting his parents, fatally harming his girlfriend, and abducting his daughter.

The Largo Police Department responded to a call from the Clearwater Police Department around 3:15 a.m., seeking assistance in locating Muhaj, who was implicated in a felony battery case. Upon reaching Clearwater Largo Road North, officers made a grim discovery: Suela Saliaj was found dead, and her young daughter was nowhere to be found.

Details from an arrest affidavit revealed a grisly scene outside Saliaj’s apartment, with bloodstains, a knife, and bloodied brass knuckles. Saliaj was found with her throat slashed, covered in blood.

An Amber Alert was swiftly issued for the missing 8-year-old, prompting a collaborative effort from multiple law enforcement agencies, including the Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office, Florida Department of Law Enforcement, and the FBI. Several hours later, Muhaj was apprehended in his vehicle near St. Paul’s Drive, and the young girl, thankfully unharmed, was recovered.

The nightmare reportedly began around 2:30 a.m. when Muhaj allegedly assaulted his parents, menacing them with a machete as they cowered in fear. He confiscated their phones to prevent them from seeking help, though one managed to escape and alert the authorities.

According to the affidavit, the traumatized child recounted witnessing Muhaj brutally attack Saliaj in the bedroom, using both the knife and brass knuckles. She confronted him, asking why he would commit such a heinous act, to which he callously replied that he wished for Saliaj’s demise.

Following the murder, Muhaj forcibly removed the girl from the scene, causing her injuries in the process. He now faces a litany of charges including first-degree murder, kidnapping, child abuse, aggravated assault, and tampering with a witness, and is held at the Pinellas County Jail awaiting further legal proceedings.

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