Police are searching for clues after the body of a man they say was a member of Toronto’s LGBTQ community was found inside a barrel in a canal about 60 kilometres north of the city last month.
Mojtaba Shabani, 37, who also went by “Erik” and “Moji” was found in the Bradford canal on April 15, South Simcoe police say. His death has been ruled a homicide and police are calling for anyone with information to come forward.
Shabani moved to Canada from Iran in 2010. Police say he was believed to have lived in and frequented the Keele Street and Finch Avenue area as well as the area of Church and Wellesley, also known as the Village.
To date, investigators have been unable to track down any of Shabani’s local or international relatives, police said in a news release Thursday.
“As part of the investigation police are trying to piece together Mr. Shabani’s life, specifically the last year,” the release said. In particular, investigators are looking to speak with anyone with information about his ex-partners, family, friends, employers or recent moves.
‘Someone knows something’
“Someone knows something,” said Staff Sgt. Dave Phillips. “Your information, no matter how small or insignificant you may think it is, could be the key.”
At a news conference Thursday, police declined to reveal Shabani’s cause of death. It’s unknown exactly how long Shabani had been deceased before being found, but police said it did not appear to be very long.
Police also wouldn’t say whether they believe Shabani was killed in Toronto or in the South Simcoe area.
As for whether Shabani might have been targeted for his LGBTQ identity, there’s no indication of that as of now, police say.
“But we’re not turning a blind eye to any possibility,” Phillips said.
Police say they have extensively canvassed the area near to where Shabani’s body was found and now asking motorists who frequently travel in the area to get in touch if they happened to witness anything suspicious.
Police have also released a new photo of Shabani in the hope that someone will recognize him and come forward.
Anyone with information is being asked to call (905) 775-3311 ext. 1043 or ext. 1040, or contact Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416-222-TIPS (8477).