In a city where most killings are carried out by guns and often in public, this one was different.
Asfhar Kashanifar’s life ended behind closed doors, inside his home in Lakeview, one of the city’s quieter neighborhoods. He died not from a bullet but from knife wounds.
Detectives have theories about why he was killed but no solid motive yet, said Sgt. Nick Gernon, commander of the New Orleans Police Department’s Homicide Division.
They do not believe the death was random.
Gernon said there appeared to be some connection between the 65-year-old Kashanifar, known as “Oscar,” and his killer or killers.
Police found no signs of forced entry to his home on Pontchartrain Boulevard at Harrison Avenue, suggesting he let in whoever was responsible for his death.
“What we’re really looking for is anyone who might have information about his whereabouts between Saturday (Oct. 18) and Wednesday afternoon (Oct. 22), when we found him,” Gernon said. “His movements are pretty important to us.”
According to a police report, some of Kashanifar’s friends had not heard from him since Oct. 16.
They arrived at his home the afternoon of Oct. 22 to check on him. Once inside, they spotted his body.
The friends called police to the modest two-story home. Officers found Kashanifar on his back, according to the report, and paramedics pronounced him dead.
Gernon said the home was under renovation so it was hard to tell if there had been a struggle, and the killer or killers also might have tried to cover their tracks.
While police initially said it appeared he had been shot, an autopsy found Kashanifar suffered multiple stab wounds and cuts. Gernon declined to say whether the cuts were defensive wounds, which often indicate a person tried to fight off an attacker.
He declined to comment on a recent WDSU-TV report citing police sources who allegedly said Kashanifar might have been tortured before he was killed.
Terry Strehle, a longtime friend who once dated Kashanifar, said he moved to New Orleans from Iran about four decades ago to go to school. He fell in love with the city and stayed.
Strehle said she last saw Kashanifar on Oct. 18, when he visited her at her Slidell home, which he owned. She tried to call him the next day to ask what time he would arrive to pick her up for an Oct. 20 doctor’s appointment. All she got was his voicemail.
“Monday is when the flags went up,” she said.
Kashanifar spent much of his time at Harrah’s Casino, Strehle said. He didn’t gamble a lot, she said. Instead, he went there mostly to eat and for companionship.
Strehle said she couldn’t fathom why someone would harm Kashanifar.
“If I had to say one thing about him, he reminded me of an overgrown kid,” she said. “He was an old man, but he was a kid at heart.”
She also said Kashanifar was a frail man and would never pick a fight.
“He didn’t deserve this,” she said. “He was not a fighting person.”
Gernon asked anyone who might have seen Kashanifar in the days before he was killed or who lives near his home and might have surveillance video to contact the Homicide Division at (504) 658-5300 or Crimestoppers at (504) 822-1111.
Homicide Detective Theo Kent is in charge of the investigation.
WWL-TV reporter Tania Dall contributed to this report. Follow Danny Monteverde on Twitter, @DCMonteverde.