PHOENIX — What happened to Ben Anderson on New Year's Eve? Friends and family of a Valley man who was reported missing and later found dead along I-17 have raised thousands of dollars in hopes someone comes forward with information.
“I’ve been very numb for several weeks,” said Daniel Stahoviak.
Stahoviak and his friend of 20 years, Ben Anderson, used to watch crime shows together. Now, he and his husband Chris are part of an investigation to find answers.
“So unusual now being on the other side of it,” said Stahoviak.
On New Year’s Eve, Stahoviak said they all had plans with Ben to all go to brunch in Scottsdale that morning.
Ben called around 8 a.m. to cancel, saying he was tired from a long day of work the day before.
That night, Stahoviak said he got a call from Ben’s aunt saying she couldn’t get in contact with Ben, who is described as someone who would always be on his phone.
“His phone was going right to voicemail,” said Stahoviak.
Stahoviak is close enough to Ben to have a key to his place, so he went into his condo, finding it messier than normal.
Stahoviak said it was unusual to see his bathroom window open.
“Seemed like he left in a hurry, there was a wet towel on the bed, some clothes on the floor, his credit cards were there, some cash on the counter,” said Stahoviak.
Stahoviak and his husband grew worried and filed a missing person’s report. The two went through what they describe as a very frustrating process of getting the manufacturer of the car Ben was driving to help track it to a hotel on I-17.
When Ben’s car wasn’t there, the pair drove to other hotels along the highway until they found Ben’s white 2020 Lexus UX at the top floor of the parking garage at the Sheraton off I-17 and Dunlap Avenue.
While Chris was behind the wheel, Stahoviak said three unknown people were inside Ben's car.
”They take off without their lights on, I start chasing them at speeds I’ve never driven in a parking garage before. It’s lucky no one backed out of their space because it would have been a disaster – and now we know – it’s on,” said Chris Stahoviak.
They said they followed Ben’s car over curbs, into gravel fields, and eventually stopped when the car started driving the wrong way down an access road, no longer feeling safe.
As the couple is calling 911 from their car, they notice a video on the Citizen App of a burning car in the UEI college parking lot next to the Sheraton where they started the chase.
It’s was Ben's car.
Weeks after, burned debris is still there in the parking lot.
“Burned and destroyed,” said Stahoviak.
As the sun came up the next day, the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office found a body in New River.
A couple of days later, that body was identified as Ben Anderson.
”I lost it... that’s when I lost it,” said Stahoviak.
What exactly happened to Ben Anderson on New Year’s Eve is still unknown.
Friends and family have independently raised $25,000 for information leading to an arrest in the case.
“It went from $10,000 to $25,000 to find who did this,” said Stahoviak.
MCSO did not have any new information on the case as of Tuesday.
If you saw anything happening with a white 2020 Lexus UX on New Year’s Eve, you’re asked to call MCSO at 602-876-8477.