Friday, August 12 2022


When Benjamin Anderson called to cancel brunch plans around 8 a.m. on December 31, his longtime friend Daniel Stahoviak didn’t give it much thought.

Anderson, 41, told Stahoviak he was tired after returning home to Phoenix from northern Arizona, where he had visited friends. It seemed like a perfectly normal reason for Stahoviak.

But then Anderson disappeared.

Stahoviak and others close to Anderson are now desperate for the man they call “big daddyWhose white Lexus UX was spotted in a hotel with three strangers inside just hours before the vehicle was found completely cremated in the parking lot of a nearby trade school. Frustrated by what he sees as police inaction, Stahoviak has been pounding the pavement for three days in the hope of locating Anderson, an executive janitor at PriceWaterhouseCoopers, before it’s too late.

“We hope he’s alive,” Stahoviak, 40, told The Daily Beast on Monday. ” We hope. I try to put the pieces back together in my head, and the fears increase.

Before Anderson and Stahoviak, who met in high school, ended their call on Friday morning, they agreed to talk to each other later today. But around 6 p.m. Anderson’s aunt, who lives about 20 minutes outside of Phoenix, called Stahoviak, appearing concerned.

She said she hadn’t heard from Anderson at all and was increasingly worried. So Stahoviak said he would stop by Anderson’s apartment to look for him. He first tried Anderson, but his phone was off, according to Stahoviak. Arrived at Anderson’s, Stahoviak entered.

“His work laptop was still on his desk, the screen saver was on, nothing was going wrong,” said Stahoviak, whose friendship with Anderson dates back more than two decades. “It looked like he had left a bit hastily, there was a half-drunk bottle of water, his credit cards were still there, cash, there was laundry on his kitchen floor. . And there was a wet towel on his bed. He’s a pretty tidy person, he wouldn’t leave things lying around. We don’t know the significance of this, it is possible that he just changed his clothes very quickly. But he makes his bed every morning, and the wet towel on the bed – Ben would do never. “

Stahoviak and a few friends who had accompanied him to Anderson’s apartment “turned the apartment upside down,” he said, adding that he had Anderson’s Apple ID password and had tried to access his iPad, but had been blocked by two-factor authentication enabled on the device because Anderson’s phone was missing.

At 7:30 p.m., Stahoviak called the Phoenix Police Department and, along with Anderson’s family, reported her missing.

“If you watch TV, when an adult is missing and then there was no sign of foul play, it’s like, ‘Well, that’s great. Thank you, ”Stahoviak said.

Feeling the need to do something, Stahoviak began to monitor the Citizen app for possible leads. He remembered that Anderson’s car was equipped with a GPS tracker, so he called Lexus to see if they might be able to locate the vehicle.

Courtesy of Daniel Stahoviak

However, Lexus informed Stahoviak that it could only provide such information to the police. So Stahoviak, who works in Raytheon’s global ethics and business conduct department, called the Phoenix PD again. The officer on the other end of the phone said he wasn’t going to call Lexus, according to Stahoviak. It was then that Stahoviak contacted Anderson’s aunt, who actually owned the car, and asked her to call Lexus. But even she couldn’t move forward with the company, which insisted that a police officer had to make the call. This back-and-forth between Stahoviak, the Phoenix PD and Lexus lasted for hours, Stahoviak said.

“We said, ‘We beg you, it’s life or death,'” he recalls. “And they just wouldn’t do it.”

Eventually, Stahoviak got in touch with “someone who had a heart at Lexus,” who said the car was near Interstate 17. Lexus also managed to connect with Phoenix Police and told them that Anderson’s car was currently parked at a Super 8 motel, police said. was known for its drug activity. But by the time the officers arrived, the vehicle was gone. One of the cops called Stahoviak and told him there was nothing more the police could do.

Among other options, Stahoviak said he and a car full of Anderson’s friends “decided to go from hotel to hotel, and in the parking lot of the Sheraton Crescent there was the car – with three people at it. edge”.

The car, which was parked on the fourth floor, took off and Stahoviak chased after it. But when the car started to roll in the wrong direction on one of the streets, things seemed to get too dangerous. So Stahoviak backed up and the car drove off overnight. Stahoviak described one of the occupants as a blonde woman wearing a pink hat and a man, white or Latino, with black, curly hair. He said he was unable to make out the details of the third person’s appearance.

It was now around 12:25 am Stahoviak and the others called 911 and reached an automated message saying that all operators were busy and should wait. Twenty minutes later, they finally made it through, and Phoenix Police sent a patrol car to meet with Stahoviak and the group at the Sheraton. The cops scanned the area, but couldn’t find Anderson’s Lexus.

The distraught crew returned to Anderson’s apartment to continue their search for clues, while calling Lexus over and over again to try to get rid of every bit of information they could. Finally, a member of the vehicle tracking team said the vehicle was “offline, which meant the car had been tampered with,” Stahoviak said.

“We said, ‘Please, could you give us a zip code? “That would give us at least a five mile radius,” he said. “You could tell she wanted to help but didn’t want to break the rules. And she said, ‘I think it’s 85021, near Cave Creek Park.’ So we fly out of the house, walk around for an hour, and there was the car, destroyed.

Stahoviak said he and the others eventually found Anderson’s car, set on fire, in the parking lot of UEI College, a vocational school just north of the Sheraton Crescent Hotel.

“We were on the Citizen app, but we completely missed that someone uploaded a video of the burning car at 1.58am,” Stahoviak said. “The firefighters put it out, then they left. The doors had melted, it looked like an accelerator had been used.

At around 4 a.m., the Phoenix PD showed up and searched the area, and towed the burnt hull of Anderson’s car, according to Stahoviak.

“I can confirm that Benjamin Anderson is listed as a missing person,” said Staff Sgt. Ann Justus of the Phoenix Police Department told The Daily Beast. “This is an open and active investigation. “

Joseph Giacalone, a retired NYPD detective sergeant who now teaches police science at the John Jay College of Criminal Justice in New York City, told the Daily Beast: “Unfortunately his friends did a better job of policing than the police. … Burnt car to make this case feel urgent. You had many clues that this missing persons case was unintentional.

Stahoviak, who paid $ 10,000 of his own money as a reward, said he would not rest until his friend was found. He said to Republic of Arizona on Sunday that Anderson had never gone missing before and had no enemies, as far as he knew.

“These people in this car know something,” Stahoviak told the Daily Beast. “The Sheraton has video footage of these people in this car, because we spoke to a Sheraton security guard who said the police had it. These people weren’t wearing masks, so who are they? The security guard said the video was very clear and you could see the driver and passenger seats changing places. It’s pretty darn clear.

Anderson’s Lexus, after the fire.

Courtesy of Daniel Stahoviak

The Phoenix PD “dropped the ball,” Stahoviak said. “We exhorted and urged them to do their job. We went out alone in very dangerous neighborhoods. They told us we shouldn’t be there, and we said, “We will, if you don’t. “

On Sunday evening, Stahoviak said he and three other cars full of Anderson’s friends set off in search of clues and witnesses. A Super 8 employee told them that there was no daily cleaning at the motel and that no one was checking rooms whose occupants were up to date with their payments. Now Stahoviak is about to start knocking on doors himself.

“There’s something going on at this hotel,” he said.

On Sunday afternoon, a missing persons unit detective contacted and said she was heading to Anderson’s apartment to search. Stahoviak said he hadn’t heard anything since.

“His parents called the police department and left messages,” said Stahoviak, who has spent all his free time handing out flyers in the hopes someone will recognize Anderson. “No one called them back.”

The remains of Anderson’s sacked Lexus.

Courtesy of Daniel Stahoviak

In the absence of concrete information, Stahoviak, who again took to the streets on Monday looking for clues, has his own thoughts on what could have happened to Anderson.

“Ben has always been such a nice person,” he said. “And I think he would have helped anyone. Even though they were drug addicts, he wanted to help them. My theory is that some kind of help was provided and it went south. “

For Giacalone, “burning the car signals a different level of suspect, the one who did not do it for a ride. “

“For me there is another motive,” he said. “Whether they got the right fit is also something to look at closely. “


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