Ghazal Mansury denies murdering her mom.
When family members could not get in touch with 79-year-old Mehria Mansury, they first approached her 42-year-old daughter Ghazal. The daughter said her mother had left the Serra Mesa home they shared to go for a walk and never returned. It was two days later, September 25, when the frantic family finally called police, on September 25, 2013. The first San Diego police officer responded within minutes, arriving before midnight.
Sgt. Thomas Sullivan went into the Mansury home.
Ghazal eventually got control of her mother’s home.
The next morning, police Sgt. Thomas Sullivan pulled up to modest single-story house at 2890 Amulet Street. After Sullivan parked at the curb, he was getting out of his patrol car when he saw 15 or 20 other people getting out of their own cars, parked on the same street. This surprised him. “I wasn’t expecting anybody to be there,” he said later.
When the sergeant knocked, Ghazal answered the front door. “She was aware that all the family members were outside. And, you know, she was eager to get us in and close the door,” the sergeant remembered later in court.
“The entire house was in complete disarray,” the cop noticed. “I mean, you had to step over things. There was dog feces and dog urine. In various places where the urine was, they just put a paper towel over it to absorb it.”
Ghazal led the cop down a hallway. And then, “The odor of bleach, there was a significant odor of bleach coming from the hallway bathroom,” the sergeant said. “It got my attention quickly. The moment that I looked inside the bathroom, the floor was sparkling white, which was completely out of the ordinary to what I had seen to the rest of the house. I stepped into the bathroom, and there was a bottle of bleach in the tub, and right next to the drain were two white socks. Ghazal was with me at the time.”
He said Ghazal stayed close. “She was, you know, right on my hip most of the time.”
Ghazal’s boyfriend Lucio was called into court but refused to testify.
The cop asked Ghazal about the items in the tub. “And she told me that her boyfriend Lucio had dirty feet and that he was cleaning his socks.” This stuck in the cop’s mind. “It just seemed very odd, considering why would someone be so concerned about cleaning their feet when I wouldn’t walk through the house in my bare feet, not in that condition.”
Mehria Mansury Flyer
Fifty-seven-year-old Lucio was not much loved by Ghazal’s family. He seemed a shady character and, in fact, did have drug convictions before he moved into the garage of the home a few months before Mehria Mansury went missing.
“The first time I had met Ghazal was on September 26th,” detective Timothy Norris recalled. “I think I initially interviewed her as just a witness because she is the daughter of our missing person.” That interview was at police headquarters, downtown. “I just asked her to explain what her relationship was, with her mom... and she described their relationship as very difficult.... She told me that it was her belief that her father had an extramarital affair, which resulted in the birth of Ghazal, and he had the mother raise her as her own, and that is the crux of their difficult relationship.”
Ghazal Mansury was born in Afghanistan in 1971. Her parents brought their only child to the United States in 1976. After the Mansury family was established in San Diego, many of their relations followed. It was after Ghazal’s father passed away, two years earlier, when the family noticed that Ghazal’s relationship with her mother turned so ugly.
After Mehria’s disappearance, family members had noticed that Ghazal was driving her mother’s new car, a silver Honda Civic. Previously, this had been forbidden. Police later found Mehria’s blood in the trunk of the car.
On October 2, 2013, Detective Norris arrived at the house on Amulet Street one week after the elderly woman was declared missing — and just a couple hours after a body was found in a rugged part of East County. The detective spoke to Ghazal at about 6 o’clock on that evening. “I told her...we had a search warrant. It allowed us to come in. And I asked her to come outside.”
Norris testified later that he wanted to get Ghazal out of the house, “So the detectives could do their work in the home. And essentially just occupy her, keep her company.... There was going to be a lot of lab people, detectives in and around her home.”
Everyone was aware of the television news vans on the street, “It was covered with news media. And I told her, I said, ‘You are welcome to stay outside, stand here, come inside my car, sit down. I can take you somewhere, to a friend’s house, [or] we can go have a cup of coffee ourselves and talk.’”
Ghazal accepted the detective’s offer. She hurried across the street with a cigarette in one hand and the leash to her puppy in the other and got into the detective’s unmarked blue sedan. “I even allowed her to bring her dog with her,” the detective remembered later.
Ghazal and the detective went to this gas station in City Heights.
She asked to be dropped off near a gasoline station on the 4100 block of University Avenue, about five miles away. Soon they parked there.
“She was totally free to leave. I kind of expected her to leave, but she just wouldn’t get out of the car.”
Ghazal sat in the front passenger seat. There was another detective sitting in the back.
“She was very calm, very cooperative, and seemed pretty relaxed.”
Ghazal said one of her cousins had offered a theory of what might have happened.
“She said that, in her cousin’s words, essentially, ‘Well, maybe you got home and you saw that your mom was hurt,’ or, you know, something to that nature.” The detective tried to prompt her. “I said something like, And? And she said, ‘Well, I panicked, and I don’t want to say anything else.’”
“So then I asked her. I just asked her. I said, Did Lucio help? Lucio is her boyfriend. And she shook her head ‘no.’”
Somehow the detective steered Ghazal into talking about how her mother’s body got into the trunk of her car.
“I go, ‘Are you that strong?’ Thinking you would have to lift dead weight and that sort of thing. And she said, ‘Yes.’ She nodded her head ‘yes.’ And I asked her, ‘Well, how much can you lift?’ And she said, ‘At least a hundred pounds.’ And I said, ‘Well, how much does your mom weigh?’ And she said, ‘One hundred and five.’
“I had asked her, ‘Well how did you do that..? Did you back the car in the driveway, or how did you do it?’ She just acknowledged that she put the body in the trunk.”
Then he asked, “How did you get her in the trunk without the neighbors seeing?” Ghazal laughed. “And I asked her, I said, ‘Did you back it in? She said, ‘Yeah.’”
The detective remarked on Ghazal’s demeanor. “She was almost proud that she was almost able to pull this off.”
And Ghazal told the detective that her mother was wearing a white nightgown and her wedding ring. The body was found wearing these items.
It was about 9 o’clock in the evening, three hours after she got in, when Ghazal got out of the unmarked cop car at the gasoline station and walked away with her little dog.
Ghazal was arrested the next day, on October 3, 2013. Her boyfriend Lucio was questioned but never charged.
During a three-week murder trial in January 2015, Ghazal Mansury, then 43, testified in her own defense. She suggested to the jury that her mother must have died from an accidental fall in the bathroom, and Ghazal found her dead later, when she returned home.
Ghazal confessed to the jury that at the time she was “drug addled” and “wasn’t thinking right.” When arrested, Ghazal had a used meth pipe in her pocket.
Prosecutor Paul Greenwood with map of where the body was found
The prosecutor, Paul Greenwood, produced a witness that was a former friend of Ghazal’s. This woman testified that Ghazal told her she had strangled her mother with a bicycle inner tube. Ghazal, Greenwood asserted, wanted to prevent her mother from going to a doctor’s appointment the next day because Mehria Mansury had obvious injuries from physical abuse by Ghazal.
After deliberating one full day, the jury declared Ghazal guilty of first-degree murder on January 27, 2015. She was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison on March 6.