‘I’m not sure if it’s a body or a mannequin’: 911 call adds mystery to body found burned in desert

The 911 caller and authorities were confused at the time if they were looking at a burning human or mannequin.
Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 11:19 AM PDT
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PHOENIX (KTVK/KPHO/Gray News) – A 911 call from Phoenix revealed that a man’s charred body was almost mistaken for a mannequin.

The homicide case of Benjamin Anderson has been riddled with mystery ever since he disappeared on New Year’s Eve. His body was found burned in the desert off Interstate 17, and his car was also found torched in a parking lot.

In a matter of hours, Anderson went from talking to his friends and family, making plans for New Year’s Eve that night, to his burned body being found in the desert.

Now, in a recently released audio, the 911 caller who found Anderson’s body just after 1:30 p.m. on New Year’s Eve almost mistook him for a mannequin.

“Um, I’m now in the desert on the 17 off Mesa Table,” the caller said. “I’m not sure if it’s a body or a mannequin, but it looks like a body to me.”

“It’s on fire right now?” the dispatcher asked.

“Yes. It’s on fire and it’s getting wider,” the caller said.

“Did you see any vehicles or anything around it?” the dispatcher asked.

“No. I looked around. There was nothing,” the caller said.

Daniel Stahoviak, Anderson’s best friend of 25 years, said he is thankful someone found his friend so quickly, although they are still searching for answers.

While looking for Anderson on New Year’s Eve, Stahoviak and other friends were able to track down Anderson’s vehicle in a hotel parking garage, where they said they saw three people inside the car. They chased them for some time before giving up.

Hours later, the group of friends found Anderson’s car burned in a school parking lot. Unknown to his friends at the time, Anderson’s body had already been found as well.

Stahoviak said he spoke to Anderson at 8 a.m. that morning, and Anderson spoke to family around 9:30 a.m. His body was found burning miles away from his home just four hours later.

“We’re talking a matter of just a couple of hours that he was found burning in the desert almost to the county line. So, it’s so hard to fathom what happened that quick to Ben and who got to him that quick,” Stahoviak said.

There are still a lot of unknowns. Officials don’t know who the people were inside Anderson’s car, they don’t know how Anderson got to the desert, and they don’t know a motive for his killing.

The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office is continuing to investigate.

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