Murdered woman's son, BR resident jailed in Iran
BATON ROUGE - A day after an Iranian man was indicted for arranging the murder of his ex-wife, sources confirmed his son, who lives here as an American citizen and is not implicated in the crime, is jailed in Iran.
Friends of Hamed Ghassemi, the son, said he left Baton Rouge recently to return his mother's body to her native Iran after she was murdered earlier this year. His mother, Tahereh Ghassemi, was reported missing and was eventually found shot to death and buried in a remote area of St. Helena Parish. Her car was found burned in East Baton Rouge.
Four people are accused in her death, including her ex-husband, Hamid Ghassemi. Hamid Ghassemi is accused of hiring three people to kill his ex-wife.
The Ghassemi men have similar names with a slight variation in spelling.
Tahereh Ghassemi's son has spoken publicly about the case involving his father and has asked those responsible be put to death. His outcry leads some in Baton Rouge to believe his detention is suspicious and are curious as to if his comments about his father caused him to be apprehended when he returned to the Middle East with his mother's body.
"The death penalty is the only thing they deserve," Hamed said in an interview with WBRZ in May.
"A day after [Tahereh's funeral in Iran], I'm told, he was arrested for being a Christian," East Baton Rouge Metro Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle said in an interview with WBRZ Friday afternoon. Marcelle said she knew the family through business dealings but was not certain Hamed was a Christian, although it was her understanding he was being held on such charges.
The U.S. State Department, the nation's chief international affairs arm, said it is aware of the situation in Iran but would provide no specific information due to privacy concerns.
"We have no further information to share on this case," the department said when asked by ABC News.
Sources said federal officials have been in touch with the son's family members who live in Iran, but, there is no U.S. involvement in his release at this point.
Tahereh and Hamid divorced and the dead woman was in the process of collecting a hefty divorce settlement when she was killed.
Hamid owns used car lots and property in Baton Rouge and Lafayette and has been in jail since he was arrested in May.
Elder Ghassemi was indicted for the murder Thursday. Prosecutors said he paid three men $10,000 to kidnap Tahereh Ghassemi from her home, torch her car, shoot her and bury her body. Hamid Ghassemi was indicted for first degree murder.
Also indicted were Tyler Lee Aspaugh of Denham Springs, Skyler Williams of Denham Springs, and Daniel Richter of Walker for their alleged roles in the murder conspiracy.
"This is a very cold calculated, deliberate, cowardly act by four men against one defenseless woman," East Baton Rouge District Attorney Hillar Moore said.
Not so loving
Court records indicate a bitter divorce between Hamid and Tahereh, the murder victim. Hamid Ghassemi was ordered to pay her $1 million before she was kidnapped and killed. The pair were married in Iran and Hamid moved to the United States on a student visa. While here, he re-married and records show he tried to challenge the legitimacy of his marriage to Tahereh. The U.S. court sided with her, and ordered the payment.
Deputies used cell phone data to tie the suspects to the murder. Investigators accused Hamid of orchestrating the killing, and said phone records of those involved show them moving around the region disposing of evidence and the murdered woman's body.
Detectives said suspect Tyler Lee Aspaugh confessed to being with Skyler Williams and Daniel Richter when they kidnapped and killed Tahereh and used Hamid's SUV, which they eventually returned to Hamid.
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