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Toronto man was abducted before his remains were found in a hockey bag floating in a pond, police say

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A Toronto man whose remains were found floating in an Uxbridge, Ont. pond last spring was abducted from Toronto before he was murdered and his body was put in a hockey bag, police say

“We now believe Mr. Kaplan was abducted from the area of Yonge Street and Sheppard Avenue in Toronto on August 29, 2021, before he was killed and his body was disposed of,” Det. Sgt. Doris Carriere said at a Durham Region Police Service (DRPS) news conference on Monday morning.

“Mr. Kaplan appeared to fear for his safety in the days and weeks that preceded his abduction,” Carriere said, later adding that police believe Kaplan felt that way because someone was trying to find him.

On the night of Kaplan’s disappearance, investigators say they believe he had dinner with several people at a Yorkville restaurant sometime after 9 p.m.

“We know from our interviews that Mr. Kaplan had ties to the Russian and Jewish communities, and further that he had business relationships with members of the Somalian, Italian and Mexican communities,” Carriere said.

This new information is based on more than 100 interviews, hundreds of thousands of data files and documents, along with cell phone data that corroborated witness accounts, social media posts, bank records and inquiries from Canada and abroad, according to police.

On May 10, DRPS were called to a rural area of Uxbridge, near Uxbridge Concession Road 6 and Allbright Road, after a local resident found human remains.

Ontario Forensic Pathology Services confirmed the remains are those of 32-year-old Ariel Kaplan, of Toronto.

Kaplan was reported missing in August 2021, police said.

Months earlier, in May 2021, he 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 juice bottles and washing machines.

Carriere said investigators don’t have “direct links” right now that connect these charges with Kaplan’s murder, but that some witnesses have supported this theory and officers “remain open” to following evidence if it leads in that direction.

Investigators are asking for anyone who was in contact with Kaplan around the time of his disappearance and in the weeks prior to call police at 1-888-579-1520 ext. 5444 or anonymously contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.

“Ariel Kaplan was a son, a brother and an uncle. His death has deeply affected his family, his friends and his community.”

With files from CTV News Toronto's Abby O'Brien.

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