D.C. police are investigating whether involvents with gambling and women are connected with the murder of the maitre d' of a popular Capitol Hill restaurant early yesterday morning.
The body of Alexi Goodrzi, 36, was found inside his orange Porsche about 2 a.m. by a bicyclist passing Goodarzi's home at 4545 MacArthur Blvd. NW. Investigators said he had been shot twice in the side of the head in a manner that resembled a professional execution. Police have ruled out robbery as motive because money was found in Goodarzi's possession.
One investigator said Goodarzi was in heavy debt to a person or persons involved aiin gambling. A reporter who saw the contents of Goodarzi's car noticed a receipt for $816, a lottery ticket and assorted slips of paper. Police would not comment on the contents of the car. They said a "considerable" amount of money was on Goodarzi's person, which led them to discount robbery as a motive.
Many persons interviewed yesterday at the restaurant and near his home said Goodarzi kept to himself, but several persons mentioned that he liked money, fast cars and women.
Goodarzi, a native of Iran, was described as a naturalized American who was maitre d' at the Rotunda restaurant, 30 Ivy St. SE, for the past 10 years. The restaurant isa popular lunch and dinner spot with many members of Congress, lobbyists and prominent business executives.
The restaurant plays host to so many members of Congress that it is hooked up to the Capitol's bell system, so legislators can be alerted by a public address system when they a must return to the House or Senate floor for a vote.
"He was may top man here," said Al Prati, one of the Rotunda's co-owners. "Everything was on an individual basis here . . . (Goodarzi) knew everybody by their names, there are good customers here. They'd call from Texas, they'd call from California, with large groups, and ask for Alexi."
Prati said it would "take someone special to replace him."
Police, friends and colleagues said Goodarzi had not relatives in the area. An Iranian waiter at the Rotunda, Amir Soltani, said Goodarzi planned to visit his family in Teheran this summer, for the first trip home in 19 or 20 years.
"He wanted to go back and perhaps marry a Persian girl" to bring back to the United States with him, Soltani said.
In addition to the Porsche his body was found, Goodarzi owned a customized, white Aston-Martin that neighbors said had been wrecked about two weeks ago.
"He was really upset about it," said one woman, who asked not to be named. "He said it would probably cost him about $50,000 to get another one like it."
The Aston-Martin was still parked behind Goodarzi's condominium apartment complex yesterday, bearing the personalized D,C. tag "PASHA."
The woman said Goodarzi had "good business sense," played the stock market and apparently had said he owned real estate.
"He had considered opening his own place and recently looked at some property in Georgetown for a restaurant or a bar," the woman said.
One neighbor said Goodarzi was interested in American politcs, and had several autographed pictures of congressmen around his apartment.
Lisa Phillips, 22, was one of several persons in the apartment building who said they were awakedned early yesterday by the sound of police radios and detectives talking in the street.
Police said the bicyslist who discovered the body had to swerve to avoid hitting an open door on the driver's side of the Porsche. When police arrived on the scene, they went to Goodarzi's apartment where a young woman from Vietnam who said she was a student at American University and a girl friend of the victim let them in.
The girl was routinely interviewed by detectives and allowed to go home, police said.
The police department's investigation began to take on large proportions yesterday. Detectives from the homicide branch and the second district canvassed the are where Goodarzi lived, the Capitol Hill area, and checked with the State Department and the Iranian Embassy. Detectives also were present at the autopsy.
Few datails were known about Goodarzi's personal life yesterday. He was single, but a neighbor said he had been married briefly many years ago, when he lived in California. He was called friendly, coutrteous and the type of person that would go to great lengths to help his friends.
Another Iranian waiter at the Rotunda, Akbar Djenab, said he occasionally socialized with him in Georgetown at night. But he did not really know him well and never visited his apartment.
The last time Djenab saw Goodarzi, he said, was about 11 p.m. Wednesday.
"We said goodbye, see you tomorrow, and then I came in this morning and heard he was killed," he said. "We couldn't believe it."