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Riverdale woman strangled; boyfriend charged

By Ed Brock

No matter how polite he was, Marissa Jeanne Vaziri's family and friends never trusted her boyfriend of one month, Charles Warren Reynolds.

"Something didn't feel right about him," Vaziri's uncle Neil Peterson of Hampton said.

Now Reynolds is charged with murder in connection with the strangulation death of Marissa Vaziri, 27, on Saturday night and her family and friends gathered at the Fayetteville house of her father, former professional wrestler Hossein "The Iron Sheik" Vaziri, and mother Caryl Vaziri to mourn her.

And Peterson said that for them justice will take one form.

"We want him to be convicted and given the death penalty," Peterson said.

Reynolds, 38, of Riverdale, was denied bond pending a hearing after a first appearance before Clayton County Magistrate Court Chief Judge Michael Baird.

An autopsy showed that Vaziri died from strangulation, Clayton County Police Department spokesman Capt. Jeff Turner said.

"Apparently Saturday night they were popping pills and drinking alcohol," Turner said. "Something went wrong and they had a physical confrontation."

In spontaneous statements to police shortly after his arrest at about 9:41 a.m. Sunday, Reynolds seemed to express regret and a desire to trade his life for Vaziri's.

"She wouldn't calm down. What was I thinking? ? I was wrong. Now I must die ? I want to die, I want to trade," Reynolds said shortly after his arrest according to police reports. "She's such a good girl but she wouldn't calm down. I didn't know what else to do. It wasn't me. This must be a dream."

Reynolds also apparently slept in the same bed with Vaziri in their apartment in the Alexander Falls complex on Lakeridge Parkway and the next morning called his pastor, the Rev. Mark Medlin with the Riverdale Church of God at about 8 a.m.

Medlin told police that Reynolds said he wanted to pray with him, then asked him to come to the apartment. Medlin and two other church members went to the apartment and prayed with Reynolds.

After praying, Reynolds showed Medlin and the others into the bedroom where Vaziri's body was on a bed.

"At that time Medlin said she was discolored and cold to the touch," Turner said.

When police asked Reynolds about what had happened, he told them, "I'm sure I'm the reason she's not breathing. She was on pills, I was on pills, we were drinking. It's my fault. It's my fault. Take me, I've done wrong. You hear me?"

But Peterson said he thinks Reynolds is just preparing for a legal defense. He's been in prison before, Vaziri's friend Jessica Blankenship said of Reynolds, and life in prison would not be sufficient punishment.

"Now what's he going to do, go back to prison where he's use to being?" Blankenship asked.

Blankenship said she discovered Reynold's imprisonment for nine years for nearly killing a man in a fight after he mentioned being in jail. Even though her friend spoke highly of Reynolds at first, Blankenship still "had a funny feeling."

"He came off as the nicest guy, but we all knew something was weird," Blankenship said.

There was already tension in the relationship as Reynolds grew more possessive, Blankenship said, and during one argument Reynolds punched out a window of Vaziri's car. Then Wednesday Vaziri e-mailed Blankenship and indicated that she wanted Reynolds to leave the apartment he had helped her get but she felt sorry for him because he had nowhere else to go.

"I think she finally expressed that feeling (Saturday night) and that's what started it," Blankenship said.

Baird set May 15 as the date for Reynold's preliminary hearing to determine if there is enough evidence to send his case to a grand jury for indictment.

A memorial service will be held for Vaziri Friday at Prince of Peace Lutheran Church in Fayetteville.