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From World-Herald archives: Deputy says Iranian student 'died elsewhere'

From World-Herald archives: Deputy says Iranian student 'died elsewhere'

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This article originally appeared in The World-Herald on Aug. 16, 1983.


An Iranian woman whose body was found Sunday in rural Pottawattamie County "definitely died elsewhere," Chief Deputy Sheriff Steve Troge said Tuesday.

The body of Firozeh Dehghanpour, nude and with throat cut, was found under a bridge north of Council Bluffs about 6:30 p.m. Sunday.

Authorities said they had two birthdates for the woman, indicating she was either 24 or 27.

Authorities have declined to speculate on whether the slaying followed an abduction. Two of the victim's friends said Monday that Miss Dehghanpour might have been abducted as she tried to return to her apartment from the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where she was a student.

Troge said a preliminary autopsy report indicated that the woman suffered four stab wounds in the abdomen and several in the neck.

Troge, who is coordinating the efforts of Iowa and Nebraska authorities, said investigators have uncovered nothing to indicate the death had any political connection.

Nevertheless, Troge said, Federal Bureau of Investigation agents have expressed an interest.

Herb Hawkins Jr., agent in charge of the FBI for Nebraska and Iowa, said Tuesday that his agency is seeking to determine if a federal kidnapping statute might have been violated.

There is a question about where the killing occurred, and agents want to know if Miss Dehghanpour was alive when she crossed from Nebraska to Iowa and whether she went willingly or was forced to leave Nebraska, Hawkins said.

The FBI does not normally investigate deaths of foreign citizens in the United States unless there is a suspected violation of federal law, or if the U.S. State Department has classified a person as an invited guest, Hawkins said. Miss Dehghanpour was not believed to be in the United States under that status, he said.

Troge confirmed that authorities found blood on the bridge near where the body was found, but that the amount of blood was far less than the wounds would have caused.

He said it appeared that the woman probably bled to death, but that she was dead before being placed at the bridge.

The possibility of sexual abuse would be determined by the final autopsy report, Troge said.

He also said there were no indications that the woman had been bound or gagged.

Miss Dehghanpour's roommate said Tuesday she telephoned the slain woman's brother and sister in England Monday, and they were to telephone Miss Dehghanpour's parents in Tehran, Iran.

Miss Dehghanpour did not drive and may have planned to hitch a ride or use a Metro Area Transit bus to get from UNO to her apartment at 517 N. 88th Plaza, said one friend, Parandeh Kia.

However, Miss Dehghanpour's roommate, a Jordanian woman who declined use of her name, said she doubted Miss Dehghanpour tried to hitchhike home. "She never hitchhiked."

Another friend, who refused to give his name because he said police told him not to comment on the case, said he last saw Miss Dehghanpour Saturday at 6:30 p.m. when he drove her to the computer center on the UNO campus.

Miss Dehghanpour asked him to pick her up later in the evening, he said. But he told her he wouldn't be able to return until after midnight. She said she would get a ride home with someone else, he said.

Fishermen discovered the body under a bridge on a gravel road about four miles north of Council Bluffs. The road is known locally as River Road, and the bridge crosses Pigeon Creek.

Assistant County Attorney Joe Hrvol, Troge, a Bluffs police detective and Omaha police questioned a number of the woman's acquaintances Monday, including other Iranian students.

Miss Kia, director of International Student Services at UNO, said Miss Dehghanpour was a member of a leftwing Iranian political group, Fadayan, but was not politically outspoken.

"She was pretty quiet in that sense," Miss Kia said. "She never got involved. There were a lot of people around her. She was very popular with a lot of people."

Miss Dehghanpour's roommate said Tuesday that she last spoke with Miss Dehghanpour by phone about 7 p.m. Saturday. "She was laughing," the roommate said.

Miss Dehghanpour was working in the UNO computer center. "We were just chitchatting," said the woman friend.

The two women shared an apartment at 517 N. 88th Plaza. They subscribed to cable television, including an adult movie channel, the roommate said.

"She was laughing and telling me to watch them, but I don't watch those kind of things," she said.

The women did not discuss how Miss Dehghanpour would get home after she finished her work at the computer center because "she usually phones us, and we go and get her," the roommate said.

"But at 11:45 p.m. she didn't call. I went myself. It was raining. The streets were slippery and busy."

The roommate said she arrived at UNO shortly after midnight. Miss Dehghanpour was not waiting outside the computer center.

The roommate returned to the apartment complex, got a friend and the two searched several places on the UNO campus where Miss Dehghanpour usually studied.

Authorities said Miss Dehghanpour was last seen at the computer center about 9:30 p.m.

UNO spokesman Herb Price said the center is in the basement of the Eppley Administration Building and was open and manned with university personnel Saturday afternoon and evening. He said he could not confirm or deny that Miss Dehghanpour was at the center because the case is under investigation.

Students using the center in the evening enter through a door on the west side of the building, which opens onto a lighted parking lot, Price said. Bus stops on both sides of Dodge Street are about 50 yards away, he said.

Metro Area Transit said its schedule shows a westbound bus leaving UNO at 9:27 p.m. on Saturday nights.

"I like to wish that it's not political thing, but I don't know," Miss Kia said. "I highly doubt that it would be. She had her political beliefs, but I don't think she was that strongly outspoken about it except possibly among friends."

The friend said he met Miss Dehghanpour two years ago. "She was a very peaceful person. Very intelligent, brilliant."

He said Miss Dehghanpour had not mentioned being threatened by anyone before her death. She was not dating anyone seriously, he said.

He said he and Miss Dehghanpour's roommate waited up until 3 a.m. Sunday and then went to sleep. When she still hadn't arrived at 8 a.m., they concluded that "something serious had happened to her," he said.

The friend said he told police that Miss Dehghanpour might be in trouble. "I tried to tell them that according to our culture the girl wouldn't be that late. They should take any report seriously. They could have saved her life."

Police said a missing-person report was made Sunday morning by Abudeis Hasan, 628 N. 88th Plaza.

Sgt. John Farmer said that, according to the Police Department's policy, reports of missing adults are held for 24 hours before investigators take action. After the 24-hour period, police contact the person who made the report to verify that the missing person has not returned, and then start the search, he said.

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