Investigators search for clues in missing woman case

Sheriff searching for vehicle of interest in missing woman case
Published: Apr. 20, 2015 at 8:03 PM CDT|Updated: May. 17, 2015 at 7:59 PM CDT
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Taherah Ghassemi (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)
Taherah Ghassemi (Source: East Baton Rouge Parish Sheriff's Office)

BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The EBR Sheriff's office says a dark colored "vehicle of interest," believed to be a Tahoe, may provide a clue in the disappearance of 54-year-old Taherah Ghassemi.

Detectives spotted the SUV on surveillance video. It was on Millwood Drive a few blocks from Ghassemi's home during the time investigators believe she went missing, around 8 p.m. on Saturday, April 11. Detectives are hoping someone can help fill in the missing hours.

"Detectives are really asking the public for any information. If they know anything about this vehicle of interest, about the woman or about the vehicle that was found burned, we're asking them to please call the sheriff's office," said EBRSO spokesperson Casey Rayborn Hicks.

"Time is of the essence for a couple of reasons," said former EBR Sheriff Greg Phares.

Phares has 42 years in law enforcement and has at one point led both the Baton Rouge Police Department and the Sheriff's Office. He currently works for the Inspector General's office and is not involved in Ghassemi's case.

He has, however, worked several missing person cases in his career. He says each day someone is gone, the more obstacles investigators can face.

"There are a number of challenges," said Phares. "Right off the bat, you're going to contact the people who know the most about the missing person. That would be the spouse, if there is one, siblings, children, parents."

Court records show that Ghassemi is recently divorced. Ghassemi's son told 9 News he last saw her Saturday, more than a week ago. He says he was advised not to discuss the divorce, but did say it was a difficult ordeal that lasted many years.

As for suspicions of foul play in Ghassemi's case, her car, a 2004 blue, 4-door Jaguar, was discovered by police on fire and empty on a Chalma Avenue near Choctaw Drive the day after she vanished.

"It's definitely possible, and we're obviously very concerned for her welfare. The vehicle was found intentionally burned, completely destroyed. So that's very concerning for detectives," said Hicks.

Anyone with information is asked to call Sheriffs' Office at 389-5000 or Crime Stoppers at 344-STOP (7867).

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