Elnaz Hajtamiri’s former boyfriend hired a private detective to keep tabs on his whereabouts in the days and weeks leading up to his violent abduction in Wasaga Beach, Ont., on Jan. 12, CBC News has learned.
Mohamad Lilo, 34, a Montreal resident, called on the services of Investigations Plus Ltd. from Brampton to locate and monitor Hajtamiri, three sources with direct knowledge of the situation told CBC News.
One of the sources said company investigators conducted a surveillance on January 10 and 11 outside the Wasaga Beach home where Hajtamiri was staying with relatives. An investigator, however, was called on the morning of January 12, the source said – the same day three men dressed in police gear broke into the house and abducted the 37-year-old Iranian immigrant.
She has not been seen or heard from since.
CBC News is not identifying the sources, as they were not authorized to speak publicly about an open police investigation.
The revelations come as the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) continues to investigate Hajtamiri’s abduction. No charges have been laid.
Lilo and Hajtamiri were in a romantic relationship which ended in October 2021.
Nine days after his ex-girlfriend was kidnapped, Lilo was charged with criminally harassing her. His attorney, Philippe Grenier, declined to address the allegations against his client contained in this story; When reached by phone, he said the matter was before the courts. He did not respond to a detailed list of questions emailed.
CBC News attempted to contact Lilo himself on social media and at a phone number listed on his bond documents. Lilo did not respond to the social media message and the person who answered the phone said she did not know him.
Private detective confirms surveillance
Gabriel Cojocaru, owner of Investigations Plus Ltd., confirmed to CBC News in a phone interview that Lilo hired his company around Dec. 6 or 9, asking him to find Hajtamiri and then monitor his movements.
Cojocaru said Lilo provided addresses for her Richmond Hill condo building and the Wasaga Beach home on Trailwood Place.
Hajtamiri went to live with family members in Wasaga Beach because she feared for her safety after she was beaten by two men with a frying pan in her condo’s underground parking lot on December 20. The attack left her with a head injury that required around 40 stitches, her cousin told CBC News.
Sources tell CBC News that Lilo had been to Hajtamiri’s Richmond Hill residence several times and also knew the Wasaga Beach home, having stayed there at least one night when the pair dated.
Cojocaru said he watched both the Richmond Hill condo and later the Wasaga Beach house for “a few days before he was abducted.”
At approximately 8:30 p.m. on January 12, three men broke into the Wasaga Beach home, grabbed Hajtamiri and dragged her barefoot through the snow in what OPP investigators believe was a White Lexus RX SUV.
The Ontario Provincial Police have yet to name any suspects or charge anyone with the kidnapping. OPP spokesman Bill Dickson declined to comment on the private investigator’s question.
Cojocaru said a private detective was watching the house on the day of the abduction, but said the man left his shift at 6 p.m. – two and a half hours before the abduction – because he was diabetic and had gone to get food and take his insulin shot.
A source who was not authorized to speak told CBC News that another surveillance expert hired by Investigations Plus who had worked previous night shifts was called that morning.
We do not know why.
Asked that no one was watching the house at the time of the kidnapping, Cojocaru replied that it was a coincidence. He said no one specifically asked him to remove the surveillance.
Lilo changed her story, says PI
When Lilo first contacted Investigations Plus in early December, Cojocaru said he claimed to be Hajtamiri’s ex-boyfriend, said he was a Montreal lawyer, and gave the name “Nazar “, although Cojocaru said he learned Lilo’s real name after doing his own research.
CBC News confirmed that Nazar was Lilo’s middle name by cross-checking his name and date of birth on court documents with those in financial documents found during a Quebec lien search.
Cojocaru said Lilo initially claimed that Hajtamiri stole $100,000 from her and that he wanted to find her to serve court documents on her.
But Lilo’s story changed later, Cojocaru said, and he claimed his brother was shot. At the time, Lilo hinted that Hajtamiri may have been involved in the shooting and that she was dangerous, the owner of the private investigations firm said.
Cojocaru said his job was to keep tabs on Hajtamiri and let Lilo know if she was traveling to Montreal so he could call the police.
“He rang the phone [like] he was worried about his safety and stuff like that,” Cojocaru said. “I didn’t suspect a thing.”
It is legal in Ontario for a licensed private investigator to monitor a person in a public place at any time of the day or night, including taking pictures or video footage of a person, without their consent.
Surveillance must be conducted from public property or private property where the public has implied access, such as a mall or grocery store, and investigators cannot violate any municipal, state, or federal law.
Cojocaru said he and his investigators did nothing but monitor Hajtamiri and he was unaware of any connection to criminal activity.
He said he was taken aback when he found out she had been abducted.
“When I heard the story, for example, I didn’t feel well at all. For example, I was very depressed and very upset about it all, because we don’t associate criminals. I don’t support not the criminals,” Cojocaru said. . “I hope and wish and pray that this girl is alive.”
Cojocaru said he cooperated with the police and told them everything he knew.
Suspect wanted in Richmond Hill frying pan attack arrested
Nearly two weeks ago, the lead detective in the kidnapping case and Hajtamiri’s mother demanded information about her whereabouts at a press conference. Police said at the time that investigators were unable to discern the motive for the kidnapping and no ransom demand had been received.
CBC News previously reported that Lilo was arrested on January 21 and charged with stalking Hajtamiri. The alleged harassment occurred in the weeks leading up to his abduction.
Lilo was released on bail after two people who appear to be his family agreed to act as sureties, pledging to pay $5,000 each if he breaches his bail conditions. One of those conditions is not having contact with Cojocaru, whose last name was spelled “Cogocaru” on the release order.
The harassment charge has yet to be tested in court.
Hajtamiri’s family said the woman believed she was being watched before she disappeared. A cousin told CBC News that two tracking devices were found under Hajtamiri’s Lexus by dealership workers when she brought it in for repair.
CBC News was unable to confirm tracker details, but independently confirmed that the missing woman’s car was repaired at the time of the attack.
Cojocaru said he and his investigators only observed Hajtamiri from a distance.
On April 14, York Regional Police (YRP) announced that a 23-year-old man from Mississauga named Riyasat Singh had been arrested and a Canada-wide warrant had been issued for a 23-year-old man from Brampton named Harshdeep Binner for their alleged participation in the attack on Hajtamiri in Richmond Hill in December.
YRP said Singh was arrested on April 13 and charged with attempted murder, attempted kidnapping, possession of property obtained by crime over $5,000 and mischief under $5,000.
Police are now looking for Binner, who was arrested in Edmonton in March, along with two other Ontarians for the theft of dozens of Ford F-150 pickup trucks in that city. An Edmonton police spokesperson told CBC News the courts released Binner pending a future court date.
OPP investigators said they linked Hajtamiri’s abduction to the frying pan assault; they believe the same people involved in the assault were either involved in the kidnapping or could identify those responsible.