911 calls released in unsolved Benjamin Anderson homicide case when body was found

The 911 caller and authorities were confused at the time if they were looking at a burning human or mannequin. (Source: azfamily)
Published: Aug. 15, 2022 at 8:26 PM MST
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PHOENIX (3TV/CBS 5) -- It’s a homicide case that’s riddled with mystery — the disappearance and death of Phoenix man Benjamin Anderson on New Year’s Eve. His body was found burned in the desert off I-17, and his car was found burned in a parking lot shortly after. Now we’re hearing the 911 calls and details from when his body was found for the first time.

In a matter of hours, Anderson went from talking to his friends and family and making plans for NYE that night to his body found burning in the desert. But the nature of how he was found is now being revealed. The 911 caller and authorities were confused at the time if they were looking at a burning human or mannequin.

“Where’s the address to your emergency?” the dispatcher said “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.”

Just after 1:30 p.m. on New Year’s eve, a man out in the desert sees smoke and calls 911. “I saw the smoke and I thought to go look, and it looked like a body,” the caller said.

“It’s on fire right now?” the dispatcher asked. “Yes. It’s on fire and it’s getting wider,” the caller said

What they thought might be a mannequin was actually the body of missing Central Phoenix man Benjamin Anderson. “I believe somebody found him very quickly, and I think that in the long run will be helpful,” said Daniel Stahoviak.

Stahoviak was Ben’s best friend of 25 years and was part of a search where this story took an odd turn. While looking for Ben, Stahoviak and their friends were able to track down Ben’s Lexus along the 17 in a Sheraton parking garage, where they say they found three people inside Ben’s car. They chased them for some time before giving up.

Hours later, Ben’s friends found his car burned in a school parking lot. Unknown to his friends at the time, Ben’s body had already been found off the 17 and Table Mesa Road.

According to the newly released police report, the officer wrote he saw what appeared to be blood coming from the head and blood marks on the side of the wall of the wash. The officer wrote in the report, “I thought possibly the body had either fallen down into the wash from the ledge...or was tossed down into the wash rolling down the side wall.”

“Knowing that there was a body there and then knowing the condition that it was in, I think that’s…its hard,” Stahoviak said.

The officer also wrote the body had “some clothing around the legs below the butt area, and there were a pair of socks on its feet.”

“Did you see any vehicles or anything around it?” the dispatcher asks the caller in the 911 call. “No. I looked around. There was nothing,” the caller said.

No people were reported near or around the body.

Stahoviak said he spoke to Ben at 8 a.m. that morning, and Ben 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. We don’t know who those people were inside Ben’s car the day after he died, we don’t know how he got to the desert, and we don’t know who may have been targeting him and why. Arizona’s Family asked the Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office for any updates in this case on Monday but did not get a response back.