Opening up the door of the home in the small Canadian town of Wasaga Beach, the owner saw three armed men who looked like police officers. They claimed to have an arrest warrant for Elnaz Hajtamiri, a 37-year-old Iranian-born woman who was staying at the home, whom they proceeded to haul off barefoot through the snow, the Guardian reports. That was Jan. 12. In the three months since, police have been unable to locate the men—who they say were not police officers—their white Lexus SUV, or Hajtamiri, who also uses the surname Tamiri. "I have never, never come across a case like this," Ontario Provincial Police Det. Insp. Martin Graham said Tuesday. It's a case made more concerning by a brutal assault on Hajtamiri in December.
Hajtamiri, the owner of a cake-making business who immigrated to Canada less than four years ago, was in the parking area of her condo building in Richmond Hill, north of Toronto, on Dec. 21 when she was met by masked men who beat her with a frying pan, per the Guardian and Toronto Star. She ultimately required 40 stitches in her head. Police did not find the culprits, but they did find a tracking device on Hajtamiri's vehicle, to join two others discovered during servicing on the vehicle in November, the Guardian reports. That month, Hajtamiri was contacted by ex-boyfriend Mohamad Lilo, with whom she'd split a month earlier, according to police. They charged him with criminal harassment in late January but have not named him as a suspect in any crime.
The assault prompted Hajtamiri's move to the home of a relative in Wasaga Beach, about 65 miles north of Richmond Hill, per the Star. She only left the community once, two days before the abduction, to retrieve her vehicle, computer, and cellphone from police, per the Guardian. "My biggest hope is that Elnaz is alive," said Graham. "My greatest fear is that she is not." He said "at least five different people" are directly responsible for the assault and abduction. But with no clear avenue of investigation, police are now appealing to the Iranian communities of Toronto and Montreal for information. Police also released a video plea from Hajtamiri's mother, Fariba Hajtamiri of Iran. "Please, I beg of you to help us," she said, per the CBC. "Tell us anything you know." (Read more abduction stories.)