For years, Gelareh Bagherzade’s murder confounded Houston investigators. Now, the young Iranian activist and researcher at MD Anderson Cancer Center will be the center of a new Dateline NBC episode, titled “Deliberate Evil,” as the program dives into the case that took seven years to solve and unearthed a bizarre twist.
The Houston-based episode first airs on Friday, November 1, on NBC.
In 2012, the 30-year-old Bagherzade was on the phone with her former boyfriend, Robeen Bandar, when, according to Bandar, she suddenly screamed loudly and was silent.
Bandar called 9-1-1 and rushed to her Galleria-area apartment; police found Bagherzade shot to death. Her family and investigators searched for motives, focusing initially on her political activism. As CultureMap reported, Bagherzade was the founding member of SabzHouston — an organization pushing for democratic change in Iran — and a vocal critic of the ruling government in her native country.
Months later, Coty Beavers was found shot to death in November 2012 inside his northwest Houston apartment. At the time, investigators found no link between the two murders — until it was discovered that Beavers’ brother, Cory, was the last to see Gelareh Bagherzadeh alive.
Soon, family members and Harris County Sheriff's Office investigators were led to Ali Mahwood-Awad Irsan, 60, a devout Muslim, who was tied to the two murders as part of a faith-based “honor killing.” Irsan was allegedly enraged because his daughter, Nesreen, converted to Christianity and married a Christian man, Beavers, and was best friends with Bagherzade.
In August 2018, after an arduous, six-week trial, Isran was sentenced to death for the two murders and is currently on death row. Dateline teases that Isran will appear on the episode, speaking to reporter Josh Mankiewicz, who also speaks to Cory Beavers, the twin brother of Coty.
Will Isran, a convicted killer with highly extremist views who was unapologetic during the trial, express any contrition? Viewers can find out 8 pm Friday, November 1.