In this episode
37-year-old Elnaz Hajtamiri (Tamiri) was abducted from a Trailwood Place residence in Wasaga Beach, Ontario on January 12, 2022. She is still missing, and the family and the community believe she is still alive. If you have information call the dedicated tip line at 1-833-728-3415 so the public can provide information. On social media, the family asks that you use the hashtag #BringElnazHome.
Elnaz’s family has a Go Fund Me in hopes of raising $25,000.00 to purchase billboards to help raise awareness, and to help BRING ELNAZ HOME.
The ex-boyfriend of Elnaz Hajtamiri has been charged with kidnapping in her violent abduction from a home in Wasaga Beach earlier this year, Ontario Provincial Police say.
Mohamad Lilo of Brossard, Que. also faces charges of attempted murder and attempted kidnapping in connection with a prior assault on the 37-year-old woman in a Richmond Hill, Ont. parking garage on Dec. 21, when Hajtamiri was beaten with a frying pan.
Lilo was arrested Tuesday at a home in Brossard by Ontario Provincial Police and is being flown back to Ontario ahead of a court date on Wednesday, OPP spokesperson Bill Dickson told CBC News.
Philippe Grenier, Lilo’s lawyer, said the accused intends to plead not guilty.
In a statement to CBC News, Hajtamiri’s family thanked police for their work, saying they are hopeful the development will bring them one step closer to her.
“These past six months have been grueling and painful since her disappearance, as we’ve continued to search endlessly for her. We’ve been met with nothing but silence from the abductors, and not a trace has been found from our beautiful girl,” they said.
“We hope that the arrest of this suspect will bring us closer to finding her.”
Dickson called Tuesday’s arrest “a major step.”
“But this is not over,” he said. “The bottom line is we need to find Elnaz Hajtamiri, we need to find out what has happened to her. We owe that to her family, owe that to her community.”
Elnaz’s ex-boyfriend, Mohamad Lilo, was charged by police for criminally harassing Elnaz just 9 days after her disappearance. He’s not offering investigators any help with finding Elnaz.
Three sources with direct knowledge of the situation told CBC News that Lilo hired a private investigator to keep tabs on Elnaz’s location in the weeks leading up to her violent abduction. They said he hired Brampton-based Investigations Plus Ltd. to locate and surveil Elnaz. One of the sources said private investigators with the firm conducted surveillance on January 10th and 11th outside the Wasaga Beach home where Elnaz was staying with relatives. But one of the PI’s was called off on the morning of January 12th – the same day the 3 men dressed in police gear forced their way into the house, said they had a warrant for Elnaz’s arrest, and abducted her. CBC News didn’t identify the sources, because they aren’t authorized to speak publicly about an open police investigation.
The owner of Investigations Plus confirmed to CBC News in a telephone interview that Mohamad Lilo hired his firm at the beginning of December 2021, asking him to find Elnaz and watch her movements. Lilo provided the addresses of both her Richmond Hill condo building (where she was attacked by Riyasat and Harshdeep on December 20) and the Wasaga Beach home on Trailwood Place (where she was abducted from). When Lilo first contacted Investigations Plus in December, the owner said Lilo claimed to be Elnaz’s ex-boyfriend but said his name was “Nazar”. The owner learned Lilo’s real name after doing his own research by cross-referencing his name and birthdate on court documents with those on financial documents found in a Quebec lien search. Lilo initially claimed that Elnaz had stolen $100,000 from him, and he wanted to find her to serve her with court papers. Lilo’s story later changed, and he claimed that his brother had been shot, and Lilo suggested that Elnaz may have been involved in the shooting and that she was dangerous. The firm’s job was to keep an eye on Elnaz and let Lilo know if she traveled toward Montreal (where he lived) so he could call the police.
Sources told CBC News Lilo had been to Elnaz’s Richmond Hill residence many times and was also familiar with the Wasaga Beach home, having stayed there at least one night when the couple was dating. The owner of the PI Firm said he conducted surveillance at both the Richmond Hill condo and the Wasaga Beach home for “a couple of days before she was kidnapped.” He said he had a private investigator watching the home on the day of the abduction, but said the man left his shift by 6 p.m. — two-and-a-half hours before the abduction — because he is diabetic and went to get food and take his insulin shot.
Reminder: Harshdeep Binner, 23 years old from Brampton, ON, is still MIA. There is a Canada-wide warrant for his arrest in relation to the parking garage attack on Elnaz in December 2021.
37-year-old Elnaz was abducted from a Trailwood Place residence in Wasaga Beach, Ontario on January 12, 2022, around 8:30 p.m.
The abductors are described as 3 black men dressed as police. They came to the home claiming to have an arrest warrant for Elnaz, but the people inside the home grew suspicious of the “police officers”. Elnaz tried to call 9-1-1, but the intruders forced their way into the home, overpowered Elnaz and the others, grabbed Elnaz, and dragged her out of the home, barefoot in the snow. They took off her watch and took her cell phone and threw them into the snow. The people inside the home said Elnaz was screaming up until she was pushed inside a white Lexus RX SUV. The screaming stopped and the Lexus idled for about a minute before leaving the scene.
On a local forum, a Wasaga Beach resident wrote that neighbours allegedly reported a “very suspicious” bearded man to the police. The man was watching the Trailwood Place residence where Elnaz was staying from a white car with covered license plates that was making repeated rounds of the area. Whether or not police responded to this concern is unknown.
So far, there’s been no ransom note, no demands from Elnaz’s abductors, no indication of their motives for taking her whatsoever.
Speaking at a press conference the case manager with the criminal investigation bureau of the OPP Central Region (Wasaga Beach is their jurisdiction), Detective Inspector Matt Watson stated the police gear the abductors were wearing is not “actual police uniforms.”
In an interview on January 18, he said that based on the OPP’s investigation so far, Elnaz has no connection to any “nefarious activity”. She has no criminal record and there doesn’t appear to be any criminal associations in her past or among her family.
Yet, Elnaz was the target of a violent abduction, and whoever ordered her kidnapped clearly wanted her alive. The family she was within the Wasaga Beach home are also victims – innocent bystanders to a horrific intrusion who had to bear witness to their loved one being taken from them.
As is expected, few details surrounding the investigation are released by the police. Most of what we know is from Elnaz’s family who speaks so openly about Elnaz and her life leading up to her abduction. The police haven’t confirmed any of the details shared by the family, but the family said they are sharing the facts of what happened in the hopes the information helps in the search for her because they believe she is still alive and they’re remaining hopeful she’ll be returned safely.
A huge thing Elnaz’s family shared was how she was attacked just THREE WEEKS prior to her abduction.
According to her cousin, on December 21, 2021, Elnaz was violently attacked in the parking garage of her King William Crescent residence in Richmond Hill. She was pulled from her Lexus by two men and beaten with a frying pan so brutally she suffered a cracked skull and a cut from her forehead to the back of her head, requiring 35 to 40 stitches. Both of the male suspects are described as between 25 to 30 years old. One suspect is described as standing at six-foot-two, with a medium build and short, brown hair. He was wearing a surgical mask, a puffy, camo jacket, and dark pants. The other suspect is described as standing at five-foot-ten, with a medium build, wearing a dark, hooded jacket and a surgical mask.
Update: The 2 suspects have been identified as 23-year-old Harshdeep Binner of Brampton, ON, and 23-year-old Riyasat Singh of Mississauga, ON. Riyasat was arrested, but Harshdeep is still MIA. A Canada-wide arrest warrant has been issued.
York Regional Police stated the identity of the men who abducted her is still unknown, but they are confident it wasn’t Binner or Singh.
The gash was severe and is most likely still visible to some degree, and Elnaz’s cousin urges people to consider it when looking out for Elnaz on security footage, in public, online, everywhere, because it’s an excellent identifying mark.
The two attackers fled the scene in a stolen vehicle, which investigators later recovered and searched. They seized undisclosed evidence that everyone hopes are helpful moving forward with the investigation.
The police seized Elnaz’s Lexus as part of the investigation, where officers found a tracking device on the car.
Elnaz was told to find a safe place to stay while police investigated. That’s when she drove her Lexus, the same one police discovered tracking devices on, to Wasaga Beach to stay with relatives.
Investigators say there’s currently no evidence that an additional tracking device had been placed on the vehicle at the time Elnaz was in Wasaga Beach.
Prior to the parking garage attack, TWO tracking devices were discovered on her Lexus. The lease on the car was up so she was taking it into the dealership, and while the car was being inspected is when the devices were found. The tracking devices were turned over to the police and Elnaz decided to purchase the car and left with it. And then pretty soon after the tracking devices were turned over to police, she was attacked…
The OPP believes the attack and the abduction are linked and Elnaz’s family says York Regional Police turned over the investigation of the attack to the OPP as part of the wider probe into her abduction. The OPP says they’re “utilizing all resources to locate the victim of the home invasion-style abduction.”
The family hired a Toronto lawyer named Devin Bains to help them with the case. He’s heading a private parallel investigation to run concurrently and in cooperation with the OPP’s investigation. He’s also helping the family understand the processes of the investigation and he did an interview with CBC News to shed light on Elnaz’s abduction and get the family’s voice out there.
Devin Bains says Elnaz did everything right – She contacted the authorities every time she should have, she had faith they would protect her, and they would look into everything effectively. He says, he “doesn’t know if the police acted as they should have.”
In his opinion based on his experience with similar investigations and forensic work, the roughly 3 weeks police had Elnaz’s electronics to look for tracking devices and software was “shockingly short” for the work to be completed properly. He’s “hopeful the work was done, and that Elnaz’s situation was taken seriously, but it’s a very short period of time”.
In an original statement, York Regional Police wouldn’t confirm whether or not investigators took her belongings to check for tracking devices and software, citing the ongoing investigation and no details “on any seized evidence” would be released.
But later, Constable Laura Nicolle confirmed tracking devices were seized as part of their investigation, but how many were seized and when they were seized wasn’t disclosed.
How Elnaz’s vehicle and electronics were analyzed is one of several aspects of the investigation Bains finds concerning. Another concerning element is the fact that there was obviously no plan to keep her safe. Despite being attacked in the parking garage, there was no plan to keep her safe.
Devin Bains said, “What happened to Elnaz on the night of her abduction does not really suggest that there was active police observation of her home… If that is correct, it is not promising with respect to an organized plan, or Elnaz’s situation being taken seriously… I’m hopeful that there was a plan in place that simply failed. There was a glitch, there was a changing of shifts, and there was an inadvertent dropping of a ball. That’s what I would like to think… I do not want to think that Elnaz’s abduction was as a result of not only evil intention toward her by her assailants, but also neglected by the system of which I am a part.”
CBC News asked the OPP whether York Regional Police had notified them about Elnaz’s case, if they’d been told she was staying with relatives in Wasaga Beach, and if they were aware, if the OPP had taken steps to protect her safety. CBC didn’t receive a response to the questions by the deadline.
Given the Wasaga Beach address was linked to Elnaz’s family, and police do not appear to have been watching the home, Devin Bains does not understand why police would endorse her move to the small town over 100 km away from her condo in Richmond Hill.
He said, “If Elnaz’s imminent danger was being recognized and seen – and seen the way it should have been – it is challenging to see how her relocating to a relatively remote town in Ontario increased her safety.”
Devin Bains and other sources told CBC News Elnaz ended things with her ex-boyfriend, 34-year-old Mohamad Lilo, in October 2021. On November 19, 2021, Elnaz contacted York Regional Police after Mohamad went to her condo uninvited. York police said officers spoke with him and advised him he was not allowed to return to the building.
Since Elnaz’s abduction, the OPP has charged Mohamad Lilo with criminal harassment in relation to an event or events that occurred in the weeks leading up to Elnaz’s disappearance. Details are unavailable.
He was arrested on January 21st, 9 days after Elnaz’s disappearance, and quickly released on bail.
To be clear, as of this recording (March 5, 2022), police have not charged anyone with her abduction.
Elnaz is 5’3″, with a slim build, dark brown eyes, and shoulder-length (reported) black hair. In some pictures, her hair is different shades of brown, so keep that in mind, too.
She was born in Iran and lived there with her husband, Farnam Shapourifar. Elnaz graduated with a bachelor’s degree in International Insurance and Farnam was a veterinarian. The 2 were married in 2010 but tragically he died in 2017 after an illness that left Elnaz devastated and widowed. Elnaz used the couple’s savings to build a school for girls in a village in Iran and named it in Farnam’s honour.
A year after her husband’s death, Elnaz moved to Canada in an effort to rebuild her life. She settled in Richmond Hill in 2018, working as an administrator in the import/export industry and volunteering with charitable organizations. She received her permanent resident status and had recently left her import/export job to work on building her dream career – opening a cake-making business. She’s always loved Canada and was living a “quiet, peaceful life” in Richmond Hill, rebuilding her life and enjoying herself.
Her cousin said, “She has a great support system here. She has family in North America. She was able to get a job… She was very excited about being able to start over in a place that she would be able to call home for a long time.”
Her mother said, “Elnaz dedicates much of her life to serving the needy and offering her support to her community. She lives a quiet, decent life surrounded by her friends and family… I never imagined I would be pleading for my beautiful daughter Elnaz’s life. Elnaz is a very kind-hearted woman, always extending a helping hand to the needy and being an honest and loyal friend… We beg whoever has taken her to be merciful to Elnaz, please do not harm her and give her back to us. We are all in so much pain and agony even thinking about where she could be right now. She cannot handle the cold, so please give her blankets and keep her safe.”
Her cousin said the family feels the OPP is doing everything it can do to find Elnaz.
The family, some of whom live in the United States, has also hired a New York City-based public relations firm to help them reach out to the media and draw publicity to the case.
“We’re looking at this as a partnership with the police and a partnership with the media to try to get the voice out there to understand: Has anyone seen anything? Do they have any tips which will aid in the police investigation? This is a community issue. This is a women’s issue… This is a woman who is very gentle. She baked cakes. She made wine. She was not involved in anything of (politics)… She was very much living a quiet and peaceful life and just looking for some peace in her life”.
The family has no reason to believe Elnaz had any previous association with her assailants, nor do they believe it has anything to do with her life in Iran.
The family is also confident Elnaz is still alive, and they have no reason or evidence to believe otherwise. They took her alive and that’s something very important to the family that they keep in mind.
Her family is pleading with the public to search for signs of Elnaz Hajtamiri and her abductors. Look at her photos, look at her face, look at your security footage before it expires. The family asks that the community bind together to do everything to make sure Elnaz gets home safely.
The family believes that residents in the Wasaga Beach neighbourhood may have footage from home security cameras from the night of the incident and urge them to review footage for a white SUV or anything else they think could be relevant to this case.
To her abductors, the family has a message:
“Just please let her go … if you spent enough time with her, you would understand this is a wonderful, kind, warm, educated, charitable woman… Just please drop her off, no questions asked, we just want to see her come back alive. She doesn’t deserve this, neither does her family.”
Abduction: Occurred on Trailwood Place in Wasaga Beach, Ontario on Wednesday, January 12, 2022, around 8:30 p.m. the abductors are described as 3 black men wearing police uniforms. They were driving a white Lexus RX SUV. Neighbours reported a suspicious bearded man and a suspicious vehicle.
Parking Garage Attack: Occurred on Monday, December 20, 2021, on King William Crescent, near Yonge Street and Bantry Avenue, in Richmond Hill. The vehicle the attackers were driving in was stolen from the Finch Avenue and Don Mills Road area in Toronto. Both of the male suspects are described as between 25 to 30 years old. One suspect is described as standing at six-foot-two, with a medium build and short, brown hair. He was wearing a surgical mask, a puffy, camo jacket, and dark pants. The other suspect is described as standing at five-foot-ten, with a medium build, wearing a dark, hooded jacket and a surgical mask. UPDATE: These suspects have been identified as HARSHDEEP BINNER and RIYASAT SINGH.
Elnaz Hajtamiri (Tamiri) is 37 years old, she is 160 cm tall (5’3″), with a slim build, dark brown eyes, and shoulder-length (reported) black hair. In some pictures, her hair is different shades of brown, so keep that in mind, too.
OPP investigators have established a dedicated tip line for the case. Anyone with information on the attack, the abduction, or the location of Elnaz Hajtamiri can call the dedicated tip line at 1-888-728-3415. You can call Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477. Her family and friends are encouraging people to use the hashtag #BringElnazHome on social media.
Thank you everyone for tuning in this week. PLEASE, share this episode to help Elnaz and her family get this case out there, so we can bring Elnaz home.
Until next time, stay safe and keep your eyes peeled for Elnaz.