A Toronto Jewish man whose remains were discovered inside a hockey bag north of the city earlier this year was abducted last August, investigators said on Monday, according to CityNews.
Durham police believe 32-year-old Ariel Kaplan was abducted near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue in the North York area of Toronto on August 29, 2021, before he was killed and his body was disposed of.
“Based on witness accounts Mr. Kaplan appeared to fear for his safety in the days and weeks that proceeded his abduction,” said Det. Sgt. Doris Carriere during an update at Durham police headquarters in Whitby on Monday morning.
Using cellphone data, investigators also believe Kaplan had dinner with friends in the Yorkville neighborhood of Toronto around 9:00 p.m. on the same evening he was thought to be abducted. They have not been able to confirm which restaurant Kaplan attended and who he was with.
“We know from our interview that Kaplan had ties to the Russian and Jewish communities in Toronto, and further that he had business relationships with members of the Somalian, Italian, and Mexican communities,” Carriere said, according to CityNews. “There is no direct link right now to make us believe he was directly linked to organized crime.”
Investigators are appealing to any witnesses who may have more information to come forward.
“Ariel Kaplan was a son, a brother, an uncle; his death has deeply affected his family, his friends and his community,” a Durham police release said.
“At this time, we continue to follow up on leads, but are appealing to the public for any information that could assist in solving this murder and provide some closure to those affected.”
Police confirmed this past May that human remains found in Uxbridge, about 70 kilometers north of Toronto, are that of Kaplan.
On May 10, at approximately 2:40 p.m., local officers were called to the area after human remains were located in a bag floating in a pond.
The remains were confirmed to have belonged to Kaplan by Ontario Forensic Pathology Services.
In May of 2021, three months before he was reported missing, Kaplan was charged with two counts of possession of property obtained by crime exceeding $5,000 for his alleged involvement in the theft of a tractor-trailer that was carrying nearly $250,000 worth of merchandise, including thousands of bottles of juice and more than 100 washing machines.