HOUSTON—There could soon be answers to many questions in the mysterious murder of an MD Anderson student who was shot while driving in the Galleria area in 2012.
Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan was arrested during an FBI raid in Montgomery County Thursday morning and charged with murder in the death of Gelareh Bagherzadeh, a 30-year-old molecular genetics technology student.
Bagherzadeh was headed to the home she shared with her parents near Augusta and Sugar Hill around midnight on January 15 when she was shot in the head through her passenger-side window.
Bagherzadeh crashed her car into a nearby garage and died at the scene.
Police said she was on the phone with an ex-boyfriend when she was shot. The boyfriend told investigators that he heard a loud thud, followed by a screeching noise. He said it sounded like someone driving away.
To help with the Crime Stoppers reward, which was then the biggest in history, private donations poured in. Despite the total reaching $200,000, the murder remained a mystery.
But investigators did receive reports of a possible motive. The murdered medical researcher was a well-known activist against the Iranian government, specifically for Iranian women’s rights, and it was said that Irsan had argued with her before about her political activities.
The FBI searched three properties belonging to the Irsan family. Authorities scoured a field behind a house on Old Houston Road using metal detectors and shovels and Irsan was taken into custody at the home on White Oak Drive.
Irsan’s wife, Shmou Ali Alrawabdeh, and daughter, Nadia Irsan, appeared in federal court Friday on fraud charges.
According to prosecutors, they have been committing credit card, food stamp, and social security fraud since the early 90s.
Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan claimed an illness after his arrest and was taken to Conroe Regional medical Center. He is back in jail, and his first court appearance has been delayed.