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Missing woman's body found, three arrested

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BATON ROUGE - Investigators said Monday that finding the body of an East Baton Rouge woman who'd been missing for a month was like discovering a needle in a haystack.

Sheriff's deputies said Sunday they'd found Tahereh Ghassemi shot to death and buried in a remote area of St. Helena Parish. They also accused four people of kidnapping and killing her, including her ex-husband Hamid Ghassemi.

Sheriff Sid Gautreaux said cell phone records led detectives to an area north of Pine Grove on Saturday. Investigators found a woman's body, which was taken to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab and confirmed to be Ghassemi through a DNA match around 3 a.m. Sunday.

Ghassemi had been missing since April when her car was found burned out in East Baton Rouge Parish. Her son reported her missing when she didn't show up for work a few days after he last saw her. 

On Sunday members of the inter-agency Violent Crims Unit arrested Hamid Ghassemi, Tyler Lee Aspaugh of Denham Springs, Skyler Williams of Denham Springs, and Daniel Richter of Walker on suspicion of first-degree murder, second-degree kidnapping and arson. 

According to detectives, Ghassemi was in the middle of a bitter divorce settlement worth more than a million dollars when he arranged to have her kidnapped and killed. Court records showed Ghassemi married her husband in Iran before he moved to the U. S. on a student visa. While in the U. S. he remarried an American while remaining married to his wife in Iran. The records showed Hamid tried to challenge the legitimacy of his marriage to Tahereh, but the court sided with her and ordered him to pay her more than million dollars and give her two pieces of property.

Last month her son told News 2 his father acted un-concerned when he reached him by phone to tell him about her disappearance.

"I don't want to comment on that," Hamed Ghassemi said.

Detectives said cell phone records showed Hamid Ghassemi received a phone call from Tyler Ashpaugh after midnight the night his wife disappeared. After getting a warrant for Ashpaugh's phone records detectives said they found he made calls while at Tahereh Ghassemi's home, at the location her vehicle was later found burned and at the site she was found buried at.

Investigators said Ashpaugh confessed he went with Williams and Richter to kidnap Ghassemi, putting her in the trunk of her vehicle and taking her to St. Helena Parish. Along the way Ashpaugh said she was shot, but detectives did not identify by whom. EBR Coroner Beau Clark said the autopsy showed Ghassemi had been killed by a shot to the head.

Detectives said Ashpaugh also told them his group returned a black Tahoe to Hamid Ghassemi that night, at which time they were paid $10,000 for killing his ex-wife. Ashpaugh also said Ghassemi gave them a can of gas to burn the victim's vehicle.

News 2's Chris Nakamoto will have more on the investigation starting at noon on WBRZ.


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