Elnaz Hajtamiri was born and raised in Iran. After graduating from university with a Bachelor’s degree in International Insurance, she married Farnam Shapourifar, a veterinarian. The then-25-year-old adored her husband and was left devastated in 2017 when he passed away from a short illness. In his honour, she used their savings to help build a school for young girls in an impoverished village.
In 2018, Elnaz moved to Canada, where she found work in the import-export industry. She was known for being incredibly kind-hearted, offering a helping hand to those in need and volunteering with charitable organizations. According to police, she had no criminal record and no connections to organized crime.
Prior to the events leading up to her abduction, she was said to be living a quiet, peaceful life in Richmond Hill, Ontario. She’d also started her own cake-making company.
LEAD UP TO ABDUCTION:
On either December 20 or 21, 2021, Elnaz was in the underground parking garage of her condo building, located on King William Crescent, in the area of Yonge Street and Bantry Avenue, in Richmond Hill when she was attacked by two individuals. According to an acquaintance sitting in Elnaz’s car, the men struck her in the head with a frying pan, causing an injury that required approximately 40 stitches. One of them also filmed the attack on their cellphone.
The men fled in a vehicle immediately after the assault. The car was later found to be stolen from the area of Finch Avenue and Done Mills Road in Toronto. It was later recovered, and has since undergone examination by investigators, who have seized evidence they hope will move the case forward.
Following the attack, officers with York Regional Police seized a tracking device found on Elnaz’s leased Lexus. This was the third such device found on the vehicle, as workers at the dealership she took it to found two others during a routine service that November. Elnaz, worried she was being followed, called the authorities to inform them of what had been discovered.
Worried for her safety, Elnaz moved into a relative’s home on Trailwood Place in Wasaga Beach, Ontario. She’d been there three weeks without incident when she travelled back to the Greater Toronto Area on January 10, 2022. Investigators had taken her car, cellphone and computer to check for tracking devices after her attack and requested she come back to York Region to collect them. She subsequently brought the items back to her relative’s home.
According to the family’s lawyer, Devin Bains, there are questions as to if investigators had sufficient enough time to properly examine the items for such devices and software.
Shortly after 8:30pm on January 12, 2022, three Black men in police-issued gear showed up at the residence Elnaz was staying at in Wasaga Beach. They claimed to have a warrant for her arrest. The homeowner grew suspicious and tried to call 911, at which time the men overpowered them, entered the home and abducted Elnaz.
They dragged her barefoot through the snow, screaming, dropping her cellphone and watch as they ran to their vehicle, a white Lexus RX. Elnaz went quiet right before they forced her into the SUV. According to witnesses, the vehicle remained at the scene for approximately one minute before driving away.
According to investigators, while the men were wearing gear, they were not dressed in actual police uniforms.
Immediately following Elnaz’s abduction, investigators checked with neighbours for potential witnesses or surveillance footage.
On January 21, 2022, Elnaz’s former boyfriend, 34-year-old Mohamad Lilo, was arrested and charged by the Huronia West detachment of the Ontario Provincial Police with criminal harassment. According to sources close to the investigation, the pair had broken up in October 2021, and Lilo had been criminally harassing Elnaz in the weeks leading up to her abduction. One such incident occurred on November 19, 2021, when he showed up to her Richmond Hill condo without invitation. Officers were called to the scene and advised him to not return to the building.
Lilo was released on bail on January 25, 2022. As part of his bond conditions, he is not to visit Wasaga Beach. He has since appeared virtually in court, with another appearance scheduled for mid-April 2022.
The lawyer representing Elnaz’s family has publicly questioned whether York Regional Police did enough to protect her in the lead up to her abduction. Speaking with media, he said, “The family, just like the rest of the public, is aware that whatever steps were taken to protect Elnaz were a complete failure.” He states that officers should have offered her protection or kept surveillance on the residence she was staying at in Wasaga Beach.
Bains is currently heading a concurrent investigation, with cooperation from the OPP. His team includes former forensic investigator Tom Klatt, who worked with the Toronto Police Service on the investigation into the murders of Honey and Barry Sherman.
According to both the OPP and York Regional Police, the attack on Elnaz in December 2021 and her abduction appear to be connected. As such, investigators in York Region have issued an appeal for information regarding the two suspects involved, both of whom are believed to be between the ages of 25 and 30. The first suspect is a 6’2″-tall male with a medium build and short, brown hair. He wore a camouflage puffed jacket, dark pants and a surgical mask. The second man was 5’10”, with a medium build. He, too, wore a surgical mask, as well as a dark, hooded jacket.
In an attempt to raise awareness about the case, Elnaz’s family has set up a strong social media presence. They’ve created accounts on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram, and have started the #BringElnazHome hashtag.
Investigators have not yet arrested anyone in connection to Elnaz’s abduction. The OPP and York Regional Police are currently working together on the investigation, and all involved have remained relatively tight-lipped about any developments, including regarding if Elnaz and her abductors knew each other.
At present, the family’s lawyer maintains there’s nothing to suggest Elnaz isn’t still alive.
CASE CONTACT INFORMATION:
Elnaz Hajtamiri was abducted from a relative’s home on Trailwood Place in Wasaga Beach, Ontario, Canada on January 12, 2022. She was 37 years old, and was last seen wearing a long-sleeve top and grey and black leggings. At the time of her abduction, she was 5’7″ tall and had a slim build, with shoulder-length black hair. The gash she suffered during the attack in December 2021 may still be visible on her forehead, along her hairline.
She also goes by the surname “Tamiri”.
Those with information regarding the case are asked to contact the Ontario Provincial Police at 1-888-310-1122 or the OPP’s dedicated tip line at 1-833-728-3415. Tips can also be called into the York Regional Police at 1-866-876-5423 ex. 7250 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
Image Credit: Global News