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, lawyer for Lilo, said the accused will plead not guilty when he appears in court on Wednesday.
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."
Tuesday's charges come approximately three months after two other men were charged in connection with the December assault.
They also come after CBC News reported in April that Lilo hired a private investigator to watch Hajtamiri prior to her abduction in January. He was subsequently charged with criminal harassment and released on bail.
Hajtamiri, who lives in the Toronto area, has been missing since she was forcibly taken by three men wearing police gear on the evening of Jan. 12. She was abducted from a home where she was staying with relatives in the popular tourist area at the foot of Georgian Bay, about a two-hour drive north of Toronto.
Ex-boyfriend was also business partner of Hajtamiri's
As previously reported, sources have told CBC News Lilo is the former boyfriend of Hajtamiri, who also goes by the last name Tamiri, and that the two broke up last October.
Dickson told CBC News on Tuesday Lilo was also a former business partner of Hajtamiri, but said he had no further details of that relationship.
Hajtamiri, who was born in Iran, came to Canada in 2018 and found work in the import-export shipping industry, according to a news release from the family, but she had recently left her job to focus on building a cake-making business.
She has yet to be located.
Police say they continue to investigate and "anything is possible" in terms of further arrests or charges.
"Someone may have still that piece of information out there that could lead our investigators to find out where Elnaz is," said Dickson.
Hajtamiri is described as 5'3" with a slim build and black hair that had been shoulder length until it was cut not long before she was abducted.
Anyone with any information is asked to call the dedicated tip line at 1-833-728-3415 or their local police service. Anonymous tips can be shared with Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS).