HOUSTON – To outsiders, they were random acts of violence. But to the victims’ families knew who was behind the murders all along.
This episode of the KPRC 2 Investigates true crime docuseries ‘The Evidence Room’ reveals the inner workings of the mind of the narcissistic patriarch behind Houston’s “honor killings.”
Gelareh Bagherzadeh suffered what police would call an ambush attack while on the phone with an ex-boyfriend in January 2012.
Ten months later, in November 2012, Nesreen Beavers would find her husband Coty shot to death inside their apartment in northwest Harris County.
“When I walked into the apartment, we had the young man that had been shot multiple times lying on the floor inside the living area, and there were signs that there had been a struggle,” Sergeant James Dousay with the Harris County Sheriff’s Office tells us.
Sgt. Dousay was the lead detective on the case. He distinctly remembers his interview with Nesreen the night Coty Beavers was murdered.
He says, “I spoke with her in my car - recorded that interview. And she said, her words I’ll never forget because I asked her, I said, ‘Nesreen, you, you’re coming across like you know who is responsible for this?’ And she said, ‘Sergeant Dousay, I have a lot to tell you if you’ll listen to me.’ And I said, ‘Nesreen, as long as it takes. I’m going to listen to you.’”
Nesreen told him she believed her father, Ali Irsan, killed her husband and her friend, Bagherzadeh. Dousay says she described how she escaped a life under her father’s control and how she and her husband had essentially gone into hiding.
“She described that there were 12 kids in all and that some of them were in diapers along with the adults, her and her sister. She had a couple of brothers, and her father was a very devout Muslim,” Dousay said.
“Did Nesreen, that night, point blank say ‘My father did this?’ KPRC 2 Investigator Robert Arnold asked Sgt. Dousay.
He responds, “She did, yes.”
Sgt. Dousay said when Nesreen first left home, she went to live with Coty, his twin brother Cory, and their mother, Shirley McCormick. He says Nesreen became friends with Bagherzadeh, who was dating Cory.
Planning the “honor killings”
Eventually, the sergeant says Irsan began conducting surveillance on the home with an original plan of killing his daughter, the brothers, their mother, and Bagherzadeh.
Sgt. Dousay says Irsan and his son, Nasim, would walk the culvert behind the home, waiting for everyone to see when and who would arrive at the house.
“From what [Nesreen] explained to me, Ali Irsan, when he learned about Gelareh, he contacted her. He wanted her to help him find his daughter, Nesreen. He wanted her to tell him where she was, where she was at, and she would not do that and basically told him he needed to leave her alone,” said Dousay. “And he didn’t like that at all, and from my understanding, he told her he would get her.”
Sgt. Dousay assumes Irsan didn’t carry out this part of his plan because he couldn’t find a time when everyone was together at the house. He says Irsan was angry that Nesreen married a Christian man, blaming Bagherzadeh for helping support this change in his daughter’s life. Bagherzadeh also converted to Christianity after moving from Iran to Texas with her parents.
Since Bagherzadeh’s murder was a Houston Police Department case, he called them to compare notes.
“At that time, we, I mean, we knew that he was trying to get Nesreen and bring her back home. What we didn’t know was what extent he was willing to go to make that happen,” said Cory Beavers during a recent interview with KPRC 2 Investigates. “We saw them outside of our house and every now and then, I think like somebody had thrown a rock at our window several times from that culvert. We didn’t ever go out to go look to see who it was, but we assumed it was them. But even at that time, we didn’t think it was going to go this far.”
Family fears retaliation, hunt for couple
Cory Beavers fears members of Irsan’s family will try to retaliate. He says his mother always suspected Irsan was behind Bagherzadeh’s murder, and he became convinced of his involvement after his brother’s murder.
“For me, it didn’t really click until the night that Coty was killed,” he says. “Then everything kind of fell into place.”
When Coty and Nesreen moved into an apartment in northwest Haris County, the sergeant says Irsan began an intense effort to find the couple. Investigators say Irsan enlisted the help of a cousin and other family members to find them. Once the family tracked the couple to an apartment complex, they say Irsan and other family members would walk along a back fence, hoping to spot Nesreen and Coty.
They would knock out pickets on the fence to gain easy access to the apartment and began asking residents if they had seen the couple. Sgt. Dousay adds sometimes they would wear wigs to disguise their identities while knocking on doors and would even offer residents money for information.
“There was one lady, a single mother. They offered her a child seat and cash,” he says.
Terrorized by Irsan’s actions, the couple worked out what they thought was a plan to keep them safe. Investigators found out they would never park their vehicle near the apartment where they lived. When Nesreen would leave for work, Coty would walk her to their vehicle. She then drove him back to the building where their apartment was. Once inside, he texted her he was safe in the home.
Sgt. Dousay tells us the couple only had one key to their apartment. Their door was left unlocked while Coty walked Nesreen to their vehicle, and she drove him back to the building. He believes Irsan and his son snuck into their apartment during this gap in time and ambushed Coty.
“To think that somebody could be that evil and do that to a human being just because he loved a girl,” says Sgt. Dousay.
‘Evil in his eyes’
The sergeant eventually asked the FBI for help watching Irsan’s property. Then a judge would sign a search warrant. That’s when Sgt. Dousay interviewed Irsan and got a DNA sample.
“He tried to come across, just as Nesreen said; he’ll come across as a loving, caring father who’s just concerned about his daughter, and that was his whole motive, was that he was caring about his daughter,” he says. “I saw evil in his eyes.”
When asked why Irsan was killed in such a way Sgt. Dousay tells us, “Ali Irsan was a devout Muslim and the fact that his daughter had left his home and married a white Christian male - it hurt his honor, and he had to defend that. I have met a lot of Muslim people since I worked in this case, and they described Irsan as a person that was hiding behind that faith to do the crimes that he was doing.”
While investigating the murders, detectives found out Irsan was involved in several fraud cases. They uncovered social security fraud, the sale of prescription drugs, and guns, and even trying to scam the airlines by falsely reporting lost luggage.
“I mean there were just so many different ways they would commit fraud,” says Sgt. Dousay.
What the FBI found out
FBI surveillance shows Irsan’s sons climbing on the roof of the home. That eventually led detectives to find a hidden compartment in the attic. Sgt. Dousay says they found GPS devices, which had to be restored at the FBI’s lab.
The GPS showed Irsan moving from his home to the apartment complex where Coty Beavers was murdered on the day and at the time of the killing.
Finding the GPS devices also led to the discovery that Irsan, his wife Shmou, and his son, Nasim, were pulled over by a DPS Trooper the morning of Galreah’s murder.
Video from the traffic stop shows Irsan claiming to be diabetic. The Trooper let Irsan off with a warning for speeding.
“The trooper never knew there were possibly two murder weapons in the backseat,” said Dousay.
Convictions for the “honor killings”
Irsan’s wife Shmou was present for both murders. In exchange for a plea deal, she testified against her husband and his son, Nasim. During the plea, Sgt. Dousay learned Nasim was the one who shot and killed Bagherzadeh because Irsan “got cold feet.” He believes Nasim did not have to be coerced by his father to kill her.
“He made a conscious decision,” says the sergeant. “It’s obvious that it was in him to do what he did when he got out and shot Gelareh.”
- Nasim pleaded guilty to Bagherzadeh’s murder and was sentenced to 40 years in prison
- One of Irsan’s other daughters was given probation for her part in the plots
- Some of the other family members were convicted on federal fraud charges
Sgt. Dousay tells us before these murders, Irsan killed another son-in-law in 1999. He says Irsan was angry another daughter married a man against his wishes. However, Irsan claimed he shot that son-in-law in self-defense, and he was never charged in the case.
“I was told that he was proud of what he had done, and he took that sofa that had the victim’s blood on it, put it in the front yard, and he would stand out and drink his coffee. And when neighbors would pass by, he would smile, and it’s like he had control,” says Sgt. Dousay. “I’m going to control what happens in my family.”
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