A Toronto man whose remains were discovered inside a hockey bag in Uxbridge earlier this year was abducted in North York last August, according to investigators.
Durham police believe 32-year-old Ariel Kaplan was abducted near Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue on Aug. 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 Yorkville around 9 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. “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,” reads a Durham police release.
“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.”
Remains found in hockey bag on Uxbridge pond
Police in Durham Region confirmed in May that human remains discovered in Uxbridge belonged to Kaplan, who they said at the time had been missing since the summer of 2021.
Officers responded to a rural area near Uxbridge Concession Road 6 and Allbright Road on May 10 when a homeowner in the area noticed a suspicious bag floating in a large pond adjacent to the road. Police subsequently discovered his body inside the large hockey bag.
He was first reported missing to Toronto police in August 2021. Investigators believe the bag with Kaplan’s body inside was floating in the pond since November of last year.
In May 2021, Kaplan was charged with possession of property obtained by crime exceeding $5,000 after a trailer containing $243,000 worth of goods was stolen and found in a Toronto warehouse.
Investigators from Durham are working with the Toronto police homicide unit on the multijurisdictional investigation.