OPP issue $100K reward in case of 37-year-old woman abducted a year ago

MISSISSAUGA, Ont. — A $100,000 reward has been issued for information leading to the whereabouts of a woman who was abducted from an Ontario home exactly a year ago, police said Thursday.

Three men dressed in police gear took Elnaz Hajtamiri from a relative’s house in Wasaga Beach, Ont., on Jan. 12, 2022 and loaded her into a white Lexus SUV, investigators have said.

The 37-year-old woman's ex-boyfriend has been charged in her disappearance as well as an alleged assault that took place weeks earlier. But Hajtamiri remains missing and police continue to look for the three men who abducted her.

"A female not involved in crime is literally plucked out of her house with violence and nothing has been seen or heard from her in one calendar year," Ontario Provincial Police Det. Insp. Martin Graham said at a news conference Thursday.

"That is incredibly rare."

Graham said the police don't know the identities of the three suspects and the focus of the ongoing investigation is to identify them in order to locate Hajtamiri.

Graham read a statement provided by Hajtamiri’s mother, who family has said lives in Iran. She wrote it had been a "long" and “painful” year since she last saw her daughter.

"We open our eyes every morning thinking this will be the day she calls to tell us she’s alive and safe, but that day never comes. I just want to hug our daughter," the statement read.

"We are perpetually living in a limbo of emotions and until we know what happened to her, we can’t break out of this endless loop and move forward with the next stage of grief: acceptance."

The statement went on to say the horrors the family has gone through during the course of the investigation may not end until they find closure.

"Nothing weighs more heavily on our souls than the idea that we may never know what happened to Elnaz."

Police allege the three suspects – thought to be armed with a gun, wearing fake police vests, carrying imitation handcuffs, and disguised in balaclavas – abducted Hajtamiri from the Wasaga Beach home.

Investigators also released composite sketches of two of the suspects, who they say have lighter black skin and were wearing balaclavas with white trim and black jackets at the time of the attack.

The third suspect, for whom a sketch wasn't released, was described as thin with lighter skin and possibly Middle Eastern. Police say it's suspected he had a firearm in his jacket

"Someone out there knows the identity of these three suspects," Graham said.

Hajtamiri's family has said she was hiding out at her relative's house on the advice of police after alleged threats from an ex-boyfriend escalated.

Weeks earlier, on Dec. 20, 2021, police allege two men violently assaulted Hajtamiri with a frying pan and tried to abduct her in an underground parking lot in Richmond Hill, Ont.

Her ex-boyfriend, 35-year-old Mohamad Lilo, and two other men were arrested and charged with attempted murder and attempted kidnapping in that attack, police said.

Police said they are aware Lilo, who is facing an abduction charge in Hajtamiri's disappearance in January, is linked to a company that transports shipping containers within Canada and abroad.

The reward in the case that was announced Thursday is being offered by Ontario Provincial Police and York Regional Police.

Anyone with information is asked to contact police.

"The smallest bit of information as always may be able to bring resolution to a family who is distraught and desperate for answers," Graham said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 12, 2023.

Sharif Hassan, The Canadian Press