Const. Akhil Mooken told reporters early Friday that Riya Rajkumar was out with her father for her birthday. He said Rajkumar was supposed to be dropped off with her mother at a predetermined time. Just before 7 p.m. on Thursday, Mooken said Rajkumar’s mother contacted police and a parental abduction investigation was launched.
“The information we received was that the man was going to cause harm to himself and to his child,” he said.
At around 10:30 p.m., police put out an update on social media with a description of Rajkumar and her father as well as a vehicle being driven by the suspect.
Mooken said officers gathered information needed for Ontario Provincial Police to issue an Amber Alert, which went out shortly after 11:30 p.m. Officials asked for anyone who spotted the vehicle to contact 911.
Mooken said a member of the public spotted the vehicle and called police. Ontario Provincial Police officers in the central part of the province arrested the man and took him to the service’s Orillia detachment.
At around 12 a.m., Mooken said Rajkumar was found dead inside a home at Hansen Road North and Crawford Drive. About 20 minutes later, the Amber Alert was cancelled with officials saying the child was located. It’s unclear how Rajkumar died.
Mooken said the circumstances surrounding Rajkumar’s death are particularly difficult.
“As one can expect in a tragic situation like this where your daughter goes to spend her birthday, and especially on Valentine’s Day with the father, and you expect your child to come home… my heart aches for the family,” he said.
The man taken into custody by police was identified as 41-year-old Roopesh Rajkumar. As of Friday morning, there was no word on potential charges.
The homicide and missing persons bureau was called in to take over the investigation.
Meanwhile, police said 911 operators were busy fielding complaints early Friday from people who received the Amber Alert.
“We appreciate and understand that some members of the public may have been affected by the noise and the tones that are provided by the Amber alert,” Mooken said.
“But we certainly hope they understand that the Amber Alert program is designed for us to locate children that may have been abducted whether by parent or some other person. We essentially hope they understand the slight inconvenience this might have caused them.”
–With files from Jeremy Cohn and Jessica Patton