‘I Am a Killer’ featured Gelareh Bagherzadeh’s murder case. It was a peculiar case that was hard to crack as the police could not find a motive. The docuseries is now streaming on Netflix.
Gelareh Bagherzadeh was a student and a human rights campaigner in Houston, Texas. As she was born in Tehran, she was passionate about women’s rights in Iran.
On January 15, 2012, Gelareh was shot in her car outside her family home. She was shot twice, and she died on the scene.
Gelareh’s murder investigation
Gelareh’s neighbor called the emergency services when she heard the gunshots. The police arrived to find her car crashed into the garage door, which had caved in.
Since her purse and wallet were still in the car, the police ruled out robbery as a motive. There were no clues that could help the police in the investigation.
Her murder gained a lot of media attention, which led to people suspecting the involvement of the Iranian government in the murder, considering the fact that she often spoke against the government’s policies.
It still did not make complete sense that the Iranian government would get a college student murdered in Texas and not even take credit for it to create an example for those who continually protested.
When the investigation reached a dead end, the police put out the largest reward in Houston’s history. The police promised to reward $200,000 to the person who would provide any information that would help with the investigation.
However, even 10 months after the murder, the police had no clues. On November 12, 2012, when Coty Beavers was shot dead in his house, the FBI got involved in the case as the two victims were linked to Nesreen, who was Coty’s wife and one of Gelareh’s closest friends.
Nesreen, in her interview, claimed that the murders were committed by her father, Ali Irsan.
When Ali’s house was searched, the gun with which Gelareh was shot was found buried in the backyard. Additionally, two car navigation devices, which placed Ali on both the murder sites, were also found hidden.
Ali was the lead suspect in the murders, and he was arrested.
The twist in the investigation
Ali had called his son Nasim from prison. The call was intercepted by the FBI. A guilty Nasim implied his participation in the murders.
Following the phone conversation, the FBI found new evidence that proved Nasim’s involvement in the murders.
A state trooper had stopped Ali’s car on the night of Gelareh’s death for speeding. The dashcam footage showed Ali could barely stand, and he was not alone in the car; his wife and one of his sons, most possibly Nasim, were also with him.
Taking into account the time of the murder and the distance from the crime scene, the car was stopped at that particular point, which proved that they had been present at the crime scene at the time when the crime was committed.
Nasim’s own cousin and mother were among the people who testified and implicated Nasim. His mother told the FBI that it was, in fact, Nasim who had killed Gelareh.
Initially, Nasim denied all charges, but when his father was sentenced to death, he agreed to plead guilty to avoid the death penalty.
Why was Gelareh murdered?
Nasim had no personal motive to kill Gelareh. It was his father who wanted her dead.
Gelareh was one of Nesreen’s closest friends in college. Nesreen disobeyed her father and dated a Christian man. She had to run away from her house when her father found out about her relationship.
Nesreen married Coty Beavers and converted to Christianity. Ali felt that it was Gelareh who had encouraged his daughter to go against his wishes; to avenge his honor, he needed to kill Gelareh.
Nasim claimed that his father has always been an abusive and dominating figure in his life; at no point could he say no to his father, as he believed he would be severely punished or even killed.
He had no choice but to help his father stalk and kill Gelareh. Nasim, despite pleading guilty, still maintains his innocence.