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The Yellow Car, Episode 6: Connection

Pooneh finds out there had been some strange occurrences leading up to her mother's murder.
Credit: KGW

VANCOUVER, Wash. — After Effie Entezari’s murder in May 1989, her body was taken to the Medical Examiner’s Office for an autopsy. The Medical Examiner found bruising on Effie’s hand, both of her lower legs, ankles and shins. He determined it was unrelated to the murder.

At the time of her death, Effie was divorcing her husband of more than 20 years, Mike Entezari. When questioned by police, the couples’ attorneys said they had never known Mike and Effie to engage in physical fights. 

Daughter Pooneh Gray also doubted her father could have been hurting Effie. So when Pooneh returned home from college after her mom’s death, she began interviewing neighbors at Effie’s apartment complex. She discovered there had been some strange occurrences leading up to the shooting.

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Neighbors had observed odd noises coming from Effie’s apartment shortly before she died. Effie seemed to have been in trouble. 

"And at that point I found out from the apartment manager and a couple of her neighbors there had been some concerns in my mom's apartment," said Pooneh.

One neighbor told police he had witnessed Effie arguing with a man. Another recalled seeing her with "visibly red" eyes, as if she had been crying. In one police report, a neighbor described noises coming from Effie’s apartment a few months before her death. 

He said, "It sounded like someone was getting the tar beat out of them." 

RELATED: The trailer for KGW's true crime podcast "The Yellow Car" is out now. Here's how to listen

Others claimed to have seen several suspicious cars near Effie’s building in the weeks before the shooting. And on the day she died, neighbors said they heard Effie’s door shutting loudly just before 4 a.m. 

She was shot less than two hours later. Pooneh said none of the cars spotted by neighbors in the weeks before the murder matched the cars driven by her father.

"In hindsight, when you put together some of the other facts that came out later with neighbors complaining about yelling and arguing coming from her apartment, that kind of makes sense that maybe she was getting pushed around," said Mike’s divorce attorney Karin DeDona.

Pooneh started having suspicions about a group of people her mom lived with for a short time during her divorce from Mike. Pooneh said the group had experienced financial problems, and her mom had been lending them money. Like the Entezari family, they were all Iranian immigrants and were in the same social circle.

Mike and Effie also allowed the group to rent one of their properties. That’s where Effie moved briefly during the divorce, before getting her own apartment. Mike ultimately evicted the group from the rental home, but Effie maintained a relationship with them.

"I remember saying to her that I didn’t like the people that she was hanging out with and I wanted her to get away from them. That I think they're bad people," said Pooneh. "And her comment was, 'I know, and you don't know how bad.' And I remember it not sinking in."

Early on, Pooneh suspected that this group of Effie’s friends had some involvement in her murder. Through her investigation, Pooneh said she has been able to connect a yellow car to them, similar to the yellow car seen speeding away from the scene of the murder. 

Pooneh believes there were at least four people with direct involvement in the murder: two people who hired the hit, the shooter, and the driver of the getaway vehicle, which she believes is the yellow car.

In 2020, a witness came forward with information that seemed to support Pooneh’s theory into the group of people her mom had lived with during the divorce.

The witness, who was also the father of a student who attended Effie’s daycare, signed a sworn statement with his testimony. He said two days before Effie’s murder, he happened to drive by Effie’s daycare and noticed her car there. It was odd that she would be there on a Saturday, so he stopped to check on her.

"He noticed there was a car in the parking lot. A yellow car," said Pooneh’s attorney Renee Rothauge. "He thought it was odd. He stopped. He went in, and what he saw there is still in his mind today. He observed two Middle Eastern men who had cornered Effie in the kitchen of the daycare. One was very, very close to her. Her hair was messed up on one side. She was in obvious distress. When they saw him, they backed away. The two men left, went out into the parking lot, got into a yellow car and left. And this is significant to us because this assault happened two days before her murder."

The witness stated he saw the same men a few weeks later at Effie’s funeral.

He later identified one of the men as the same man Pooneh believes hired the hit on her mother.

You can listen to "The Yellow Car" now wherever you get your podcasts, including:

Apple Podcasts

Spotify

Stitcher

Do you have any tips or questions about the podcast? Email us at theyellowcar@kgw.com, or reach out to Ashley Korslien on Facebook or Twitter.