Family pleads for help in mystery of student's murder

January 19, 2012 3:33:57 AM PST
A family is in shock and wants answers after the mysterious murder of a medical student. It's been three days since Gelareh Bagherzadeh was shot while driving and police appear to be no closer to a suspect or a motive. That's why her family is now speaking out.

To every death, there is an aftermath and for this family it is nearly too painful for words. The victim's family was in tears at an emotional Crime Stoppers news conference Wednesday morning.

"I can't think of why anybody would hurt her because she is always being peaceful and just trying to bring peace to this community and society," said her brother, Ali Bagherzadeh.

On Sunday night, Bagherzadeh, 30, was returning from a friend's place, talking on her cell phone, driving through the Galleria area townhome complex where she lived with her parents when she was shot in the head. Her car drove into a garage door. She was found slumped over the steering wheel of the vehicle.

Police say surveillance video at the scene shows emergency vehicles arriving before an earlier report of gunfire in that area, before the shooting that killed Gelareh. Then it shows residents coming outside after the second report of gunfire. That's when Gelareh was killed, according to police.

Neighbors heard gunshots, but there were no eyewitnesses. Security video yielded no clues and nothing was taken from her car.

"At this early stage of the investigation, we're not going to rule out anything than a murder taking place," said Sgt. J.C. Padilla with HPD Homicide.

Bagherzadeh was about to join the staff of MD Anderson in molecular technology. She spent her early years in Iran with her family, immigrated to the U.S. and attended UT Health Science Center.

Her other life was about her friends and her causes -- she helped organize protests against the treatment of women in Iran, such as one in 2010.

"What's important was that she was passionate about Iran and anything she started, she gave it her 200 percent," said her good friend, Kathy Soltani.

She doesn't believe that played a role in her death. Police are investigating a complaint Bagherzadeh filed two years ago.

"I can tell you it was an assault report, how it's titled. Looking at it very closely; we're trying to track that person down named as a suspect in that report," said Sgt. Padilla.

Charges were never filed in that case, but generating leads is what's important now for police and for her family.

"I'm her younger brother," Ali told the media. "We grew up together and she pretty much raised me because when we were kids, my mom used to be a teacher and she would always be out, and (Gelareh) would always watch out for me. She's really loving and sweet-hearted. Any little information can help and I don't know what else to say," said Ali Bagherzadeh.

Police say there is no information that shows there was any threat on Bagherzadeh's life due to her involvement advocating on behalf of Iranian women. The FBI is monitoring the situation.

Crime Stoppers will pay up to $5,000 for any information called in to the 713-222-TIPS (8477) or submitted online at that leads to the filing of felony charges or arrest of the suspect(s) in this case. Tips can also be sent by text message. Text TIP610 plus your tip to CRIMES (274637). All tipsters remain anonymous.