Three months after being dragged barefoot from a home in Wasaga Beach, Ont., police are appealing to the public for information on the abduction of 37-year-old Elnaz Hajtamiri.
“We know someone is out there who has information about Elnaz’s whereabouts,” Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Det. Insp. Martin Graham said at a news conference on Tuesday. “We want to hear from you. We need to hear from you.”
Police also released a video statement from Hajtimiri’s’ mother, Fariba Hajamiri, who lives in Iran. Speaking in a pre-recorded video with translated subtitles, she said the family is “living a desperate life” not knowing where their daughter is.
“We desperately need your help,” she said. “I beg you as a mother to guide us and tell us anything you know. Please I beg of you.”
Hajtamiri was forcibly taken from a relative’s home in Wasaga Beach, which is roughly 109 kilometers northwest of Toronto, on the evening of Jan. 12. Her abductors were posing as police officers, and dragged Hajtamiri barefoot through the snow, into a white SUV. Hajtamiri hasn’t been seen since.
Two weeks before the abduction, Hajtamiri was assaulted with a frying pan in a parking garage in Richmond Hill, Ont., that left her with a head wound requiring 40 stitches. Police say the two suspects in the assault are not the same men who kidnapped Hajtamiri, but believe the cases are linked.
“So we have at least five different people responsible directly for these crimes,” Graham said. “Despite the number of people involved, we have received no information that would provide us with a definite link as to where the investigation should be headed.”
Nine days after she went missing, Hajtamiri’s former boyfriend, Mohamad Lilo, was arrested and charged with criminal harassment. Police won’t comment as to whether he is a suspect in this case, but say they are investigating the relationship.
“Obviously one of the investigative leads that we must follow is to investigate the relationship she had with her former boyfriend, who she shared both a professional and personal relationship with,” Graham said.
Police are appealing to members of the Iranian community in both Toronto and Montreal, and have released information in Farsi and Arabic with the hope someone will come forward with information.
For Graham, he says it’s rare to investigate a case with so little evidence to go on.
“It keeps you up at night,” he said. “It consumes you. It’s heartbreaking to hear a mother and father cry from halfway around the world who have no idea where their daughter is.”
Hajtamiri, who also goes by the surname Tamiri, emigrated to Canada from Iran less than four years ago. She has a slim build and had shoulder-length black hair, but she cut it shorter just before the abduction.
Police won’t say whether they believe Hajtamiri is still alive.
“My biggest hope is that Elnaz is alive,” Graham said. “My greatest fear is that she is not.”
Anyone with information is being asked to call the OPP’s tip line at 1-833-728-3415.