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The car of an Arizona man who vanished on New Year’s Eve has been found burnt over the weekend and his loved ones are growing increasingly concerned.
Benjamin Anderson, 41, was last seen on Friday, the same day he cancelled having breakfast with his longtime friend Daniel Stahoviak, The Arizona Republic reports.
"Ben called me at 8 a.m. and told me that he was feeling tired, and that he wasn't able to make brunch," Stahoviak told AzFamily. "He had been driving a lot the night before and he was tired. So, I just said 'OK, we'll talk later' and he said he would call me later in the day. That was the last I heard from him."
That evening, Anderson’s aunt called Stahoviak, saying she couldn’t reach her nephew; another friend called and said that Anderson wasn't picking up the phone either, according to the Arizona Republic. Both Anderson's aunt and Stahoviak noticed that calls and texts to his phone weren’t going through, so Stahoviak went to Anderson’s apartment to check on him.
Stahoviak told news outlets that his friend’s apartment in Glendale was in a state of chaos and that there was money all over the counter.
“It appeared he sort of left in a hurry,” he told AzFamily. “What struck us a little bit was there was a wet towel in his bed, so it appeared he had taken a shower at one point, but he never leaves a towel on his bed. His credit cards were there, his personal credit cards."
The car that Anderson drove — a 2020 Lexus owned by his aunt — was also missing.
In response to calls from Anderson's friends, Lexus was able to track the car using GPS but initially said they would only disclose the location to police. Stahoviak told the Arizona Republic that they called — around 7:30 p.m., according to the police — but the police would not request the information from the Lexus. One of Anderson's friends was able to eventually get a general location from the car company — which eventually called the Phoenix police around 9:30 p.m. with the exact location — and realized that it was in an area of town with a number of hotels, so they went out to search.
At some point well after 10:00 p.m., an officer called the friends to tell them that the company had tracked the car to a Super 8 Motel, but it was no longer there. The officer, Stahoviak says, told them it was a "known drug location" and left.
Anderson’s friends and family kept searching other nearby hotels, and claim they spotted his car around 12:25 a.m. in the parking garage of a Sheraton less than 2 miles north of the Super 8 — with two people they didn't know standing outside it and one person inside. The friends left to call 911 and alert the Sheraton's security guard, but were spotted by the people with Anderson's car.
The three individuals then took off with the vehicle, and the friends gave chase until it appeared that the people might use the car to run them down. The police showed up 20 minutes later, according to Stahoviak.
The friends found the car badly burned in a nearby parking lot of the local UEI College — a for-profit trade and technical college half a mile from the Sheraton — at 4:00 a.m. on New Year's Day. Anderson's bag and some recently-purchased vanity lamps were in the trunk.
Sergeant Andy Williams of the Phoenix Police Department confirmed to AzFamily that Benjamin Anderson is listed as a missing person. The department has not immediately responded to Oxygen.com’s request for comment.
A $10,000 reward is up for grabs to anyone who can safely return Anderson.
He is described as being 6’1″ tall and weighing at least 250 pounds. He has light brown hair, and brown eyes. He wears glasses and was likely wearing shorts, a blue zipped sweatshirt, and a black t-shirt when he vanished.
"Ben always saw the good in people… he took care of his parents, he took care of his aunt and he did everything for them and nothing for himself… he was helping his aunt remodel her house... that’s why there were lamps in the trunk," Stahoviak told AzFamily.
One of the three people seen with his car was a slim woman, standing 5’11”, with blonde hair, and a pink beanie. A second individual is described as a man of average height. He is supposed to have dark curly hair, and is either light-skinned Latino or white. There is no description for the third individual.
Anyone with information is asked to call the Phoenix Police at (602)-262-6151.
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