When a Flagstaff Police Department officer received a report of a fire on the east side of Flagstaff near his location on Route 66, he drove through the Museum Club parking lot toward the wooded area where the fire was reported.
In the officer’s reports, he saw the flames on a person's body and attempted to put them out. The officer reported he did not see any movement at the time, and Ben Iravani, 66, was declared dead soon afterward on Dec. 19, 2018.
Alan Camp, who was a friend of Iravani from the Flagstaff Shelter Services, said he saw him the day he died. Camp acknowledged Iravani’s criminal history as a sex offender, but still made a point to talk to him.
“I talked to him because nobody else did,” Camp said. “He never raised his voice, a sweet guy.”
Flagstaff police gathered more information for its investigation soon after Iravani was found. And now, medical examiner officials have released a report ruling that Iravani’s death was a suicide.
Michael Madsen, assistant medical examiner, reported that Iravani had a medical history of schizoaffective disorder with a history of prior suicide attempts. The report also cited evidence found by Flagstaff police officers at the scene, that hinted toward the possibility of a suicide.
“[Iravani] was reported to smell of gasoline, and two empty plastic containers that also were reported to have a smell of gasoline were located next to a tree near the decedent,” Madsen wrote. “Also, near the decedent was a lighter.”
Medical examiner officials reported that Iravani was cleared of any serious drugs, but they found chemicals in his body that suggested he had smoked cigarettes.
The medical examiner reported the fire burned over half of Iravani's body.
Charles Hernandez, spokesman for the Flagstaff Police Department, said that this type of case is rare for Flagstaff whether it is a homicide, suicide or assault.
“During the course of our investigation and in speaking with several investigative leads and potential witnesses, our criminal investigations unit did not find any information that contradicted the medical examiner’s finding,” Hernandez said.
A black hoodie
A Dollar Store clerk and a police officer driving by the area both were reported as seeing a large man wearing a black hoodie in the area where Iravani’s body would be later found.
As part of their investigation, police officers reported attempting to find this man and contacted people who live in the neighborhood near where Iravani was found. No one in the neighborhoods reported anything suspicious. Additionally, officers reported making contact with multiple men in the area that matched the unknown subject’s description.
After investigating the scene and committing multiple interviews, an officer was able to view camera footage from several businesses, including the CVS in the area. An officer made the observation that several witness timetables matched up and indicated that the person seen by witnesses at the crime was likely Iravani before his death.
Iravani stood at 6'2", and medical examiner officials detailed that Iravani was wearing a black hoodie at the time of his death.
Hernandez reported that while they originally had difficulty contacting Iravani's next of kin, they were eventually contacted.