Louisiana resident held in Iranian jail

Friends say murder victim's son locked up in Iran
Published: Sep. 22, 2015 at 2:13 AM CDT|Updated: Sep. 22, 2015 at 6:08 PM CDT
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BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - Baton Rouge resident Hamed Ghassemi is locked away in an Iranian jail, multiple sources say. This comes five months after his mother was abducted and murdered in a murder-for-hire plot allegedly involving her ex-husband.

The body of Taherah Ghassemi, 54, of Baton Rouge, was found in a heavily wooded area in St. Helena Parish. Officials say she was abducted, shot and buried.

She went missing on April 11, 2015. On April 12, her vehicle was found on fire and empty in Baton Rouge. Investigators determined it had been intentionally set on fire.

Her body was found on May 16, 2015.

Her ex-husband, Hamid Ghassemi, 64; Daniel Richter, 33, of Walker; Tyler Ashpaugh, 20, of Denham Springs; and Skyler Williams, 17, of Denham Springs, were arrested in connection to her death and are all awaiting trial for first degree murder.

During the investigation, the suspects reportedly told investigators they abducted Taherah and put her in the trunk of her own vehicle. The suspects also reportedly told detectives that after the murder, Hamid Ghassemi gave them a can of gasoline to use to burn his ex-wife's car. Deputies said the suspects told them Hamid Ghassemi paid them $10,000 total to carry out the murder.

Court records show Taherah and Hamid Ghassemi recently divorced. Their son, Hamed, said the divorce was a difficult ordeal that lasted many years.

Hamed Ghassemi returned to Iran to lay his mother to rest in June. The day after Tahereh was laid to rest, Hamed was arrested and placed in an Iranian jail.

East Baton Rouge Councilwoman C. Denise Marcelle said a close family friend of Ghassemi's had reached out to her for help.

Those who know Ghassemi in the U.S. are reaching out to every source they can to try and bring him home. The U.S. State Department said they are aware of the situation, but have no information to share at this time.

There is an online petition asking for the White House to step in. The petition has until October 19, 2015 to collect the needed 100,000 signatures in order to get an official response.

A spokesperson with Senator David Vitter's office said they are looking into the issue. Requests to Senator Bill Cassidy's office have not been returned.

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