(WNN) Houston, Texas, U.S.: As the family and parents of 30-year-old Iranian human rights activist Gelareh Bagherzadeh publicly grieve the murder of their daughter and sister at her memorial on Wednesday January 18, details in the case in the murder of the outspoken women’s advocate remain unanswered.
“According to family and the people we’ve talked to so far, she has no enemies,” said Sgt Richard Bolton of the Homicide Unit with the Houston (Texas, U.S.) Police Department describing investigations into the case.
Bagherzadeh was killed on Monday night at a time police believe was approximately thirty minutes past midnight very near her home, an area of condominiums which she shared with her parents in a section of Houston. She was talking on her cellphone at the time.
Her car engine was still running when police officer J.C. Padilla arrived on the scene as he reached over to turn the key of her car off. Crashing into a neighbor’s garage Gelareh was found in the driver’s seat of her car, her fatal injuries the result of gun shots by an unknown assailant who is thought to have directed shots at her from the passenger side of the car.
Her ex-boyfriend, who was on the phone with Bagherzadeh at the time of her death, said he did not remember hearing any gunshots but did hear a loud thud with the sound of car tires screeching. At the time this made him think Bagherzadeh may have been involved in a car accident.
As an activist Gelareh was an outspoken advocate for Iranian women’s rights and often spoke out publicly as a supporter of the democracy green movement in Iran. Bagherzadeh was also one of the founders of Sabz Houston, an organization that has spearheaded campaigns for protesters speaking out about human rights violations in Iran. In addition to her work for Iranian human rights, Bagherzadeh was a student who had been studying medical molecular genetics technology at the M.D. Anderson Cancer Center School of Health Professions, with a medical training program that is part of the University of Texas.
With few clues and little evidence available, detectives from the Houston Police Department are now conducting interviews with neighbors who lived near Bagherzadeh to assess if anyone living nearby has any information about the night she was murdered. One mystery is the fact that Bagherzadeh’s car was headed away from her home and facing a dead end cul-de-sac at the time of her death. With little to no leads investigative detectives at the Houston Police Department have not made any assessment on the motive of her killing. They also have shared that nothing seemed to missing from her car.
When a former public protest campaign against Iran policies was part of a released story by The Houston Chronicle Bagherzadeh statements were included. At the time she asked the newspaper not to include her name.
With efforts to gather evidence bringing inconclusive determinations, the case is still under active investigation with a $5,000(USD) reward for anyone who may have any information that would lead to a felony arrest. Because of the sensitive international connection with the case the Houston police are also working with the the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) on details involving the investigation.
“It’s a terrible, terrible thing,” said a neighbor of Bagherzadeh who preferred not to share their name.
Police have also asked that the family of Gelareh Bagherzadeh not talk to any media at this time during the investigations.
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