Houston: Marital and financial problems may
be the cause of a Christmas Day massacre in Texas by a man
dressed as Santa Claus, police have said as the seven dead
The seven bodies were discovered strewn in the living
room area of the Grapevine apartment, amid opened presents and
near a Christmas tree.
Suspected shooter Aziz Yazdanpanah, a 56-year-old
Iranian-origin man, had been estranged from his wife and two
teenage children when they moved out of the family's upscale
home in nearby Colleyville earlier this year.
Yazdanpanah showed up to his estranged wife's apartment
on Christmas morning dressed like St Nick and opened fire
shortly after the family had unwrapped presents. Yazdanpanah
then killed himself.
The six victims were identified as: Nasrin Rahmaty, 55,
who was Yazdanpanah's wife; Nona Yazdanpanah, 19, his
daughter; Ali Yazdanpanah, 15, his son; Zohreh Rahmaty, 58,
his sister-in-law; Hossein Zarei, 59, his brother-in-law; and
Sahra Zarei, 22, his niece.
On Christmas Eve, the family hosted a party at Zarei's
ranch. The gunman was not invited.
Yazdanpanah became the focus of detectives after his
sport utility vehicle was found outside the apartment and
police believe he made the silent 911 call.
The slayings have shaken friends and neighbors who knew
Yazdanpanah and his wife, both of whom were born in Iran, as
well as their two US-born children.
"The Persian community is devastated," said Mashy
Modjdehi, a friend of Yazdanpanah's wife.
Grapevine police spokesman Robert Eberling said that
detectives believe Yazdanpanah's marital and financial
troubles led him to kill his family.
Rahmati, known to family and friends as Nasrin, had filed
for bankruptcy in August 2010, and she told her attorney she
hoped the proceedings would stave off foreclosure of the home
where the family had lived for more than a decade.
"She worked hard to keep the family together, but he
wasn't willing to do anything," Modjdehi said.
Yazdanpanah had been having financial troubles after his
real estate business slowed down and had reportedly filed for
Grapevine, a town that sits on 16 square miles near
Dallas, was still in a state of shock, Eberling said.
The last homicide in the town was in 2010.
First Published: Wednesday, December 28, 2011, 14:53