STATEN ISLAND, N.Y. (PIX11) -- Nilsa “Penny” Hicks was nearly 20 years older than her husband, Mohammad Ahmad, but the age difference didn’t seem to matter.
She received the blessing of her five children, when she married the Pakistani immigrant -- a Staten Island gas station attendant -- in January 1992. They stayed married for 17 years.
“He cared about me,” Penny told PIX11 Investigates. “He was a giver. He was wonderful.”
But not long after Ahmad was fatally shot in the back at 149 Victory Blvd. on Jan. 28, 2009, Penny received the shock of her life. Her daughter recalls the word from NYPD detectives.
The police told them “that he had a wife in Pakistan that he was still married to, and they had two sons,” remembered Denise Hicks-Santos, one of Penny's daughters.
Mohammad Ahmad's slaying was the start of an arduous legal battle for Penny over where his body would be buried and who would get the Worker’s Comp money.
Penny's family told PIX11 a leader in the local Pakistani community led the charge to send Ahmad’s body back to Pakistan, and even sent two men to the morgue to claim the body, stating there was no next of kin.
“That was odd, because they knew my mother almost 20 years,” Denise Hicks-Santos told PIX 11.
Penny’s daughter said it only became worse when community leader, Ajmal Chaudhury, started asking about life insurance money, claiming Ahmad’s wife and two sons in Pakistan were the legitimate heirs.
“There was a life-insurance policy, but it certainly wasn’t a million dollars,” Denise Hicks-Santos said. “It was $19,000.”
A three-year court battle followed. The Hicks family claimed Chaudhury told them Ahmad only married their mother to get U.S. citizenship.
“They were a united couple, very united,” Nancy Hicks-Useche, Penny’s daughter, insisted to PIX11. “He stayed with my mom. He would have left my mom seven or eight years before this happened. He had a green card, so he would have been gone.”
Detective Michael Mendez from Staten Island’s 120th Detective Squad told PIX11 no surveillance footage captured the shooting, which happened near a gas pump, right next to the Quick Stop Mini-Mart. Ahmed stumbled into the market just about 9 p.m. on Jan. 28, 2009.
“When he walked inside, he told the cashier he’s been shot and collapsed,” Mendez said.
The cashier told police he’d heard a struggle outside but wasn’t too sure what was going on. Penny Ahmad’s daughters said Ahmad died with $1,000 cash in his pocket, so they’re not convinced robbery was a motive.
“There are too many things that don’t make sense, that don’t connect,” Nancy Hicks-Useche said to PIX11.
When the Worker’s Comp case was settled, $170,000 was set aside for Ahmad’s Pakistani wife and two sons. Penny received $42,000, one-fourth of the settlement.
PIX11 Investigates tried to reach Ajmal Chaudhury at a business he was affiliated with and also at one of his home addresses. His son told PIX11 at the house on Ocean Avenue that Chaudhury doesn’t live there.
The NYPD Crimestoppers Unit is offering a cash reward to anyone who provides information that leads to an arrest and conviction in the case.
If you have a tip, you can call to 1-800-577-TIPS and you will be given a confidential code number.
Detective Mendez believes there was a witness to the crime: either someone waiting for gas or leaving the mini-mart “or someone walking by. Maybe someone on the bus.”
Maybe you know the someone that can solve this case.