Slain Toronto physician was in abusive relationship, friends tell investigators
Rachael D'Amore and Courtney Greenberg, CTV Toronto
Published Monday, December 5, 2016 3:30PM EST
Last Updated Monday, December 5, 2016 7:49PM EST
Friends and colleagues of Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji, whose body was discovered in a suitcase in Kleinburg last week, are telling investigators that her brutal murder did not come as a surprise.
Homicide detectives completed a search today of her home, which she shared with her husband, a Toronto neurosurgeon, and their children.
Police determined the cause of death to be strangulation and blunt force trauma to the head.
Investigators believe Fric-Shamji was killed at her home, located in the Bathurst Street and Sheppard Avenue area, sometime between the evening of Nov. 30 and the morning of Dec. 1.
By Sunday, homicide detectives had obtained a warrant to search the family’s home and started going door-to-door in their North York neighbourhood to speak with nearby residents.
“When they first contacted us they said she was missing and if I knew her or her whereabouts,” Silvia Takac, who lives near the Shamjis, told CTV News Toronto. “After that, when they came back quite a few times, it was a murder investigation.”
“They [were asking about] Wednesday or Thursday. They were asking whether we saw something unusual Wednesday night or Thursday morning,” Takac said.
The Shamji’s next-door neighbours, who did not want to be identified, told CTV News Toronto that they didn’t hear anything unusual during that timeframe.
Friends and family who spoke to investigators on Monday said Fric-Shamji was in an abusive relationship with her husband, a source close to the investigation told CTV News Toronto.
The source also said the violence dated back to the beginning of the couple’s 12-year marriage. There was an incident when police were called while they were living in Ottawa, where Fric-Shamji’s husband was going to medical school.
Fric-Shamji was pregnant at the time, according to the source, and her husband allegedly threatened to kill her if she did not have an abortion because he believed it could ruin his career.
Fric-Shamji was a well-respected family physician who was reported missing by her mother after she didn’t show up for work.
Her 40-year-old husband and father of her three children, Mohammed Shamji, was arrested Friday and charged with first-degree murder in connection with her death.
Shamji, a well-known neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital, made a brief court appearance on Saturday where he was remanded into custody until his next court date on Dec. 20.
The victim’s mother is said to be taking care of the couple’s three children.
CTV News Toronto has also learned that grief counsellors have been sent to the school the children attend to help their classmates.
Patients left without a doctor
Shamji’s arrest has also left his patients without a doctor to perform much-needed surgeries.
Lindsay Wilson takes 15 pills three times a day to manage her condition, but she told CTV News Toronto it doesn’t help with her pain.
“It feels like a hot wedge or crowbar is just slowly sliding into the base of my skull,” she said.
She was diagnosed with a genetic disorder that causes weak joints called Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome (EDS) after a snowboarding accident.
She was expecting to go into surgery in May, but now the only surgeon in Canada who could perform the surgery is in custody while awaiting trial for murder.
Another patient suffering from severe EDS was set to have surgery today. Darren and Michelle Crawford said their 21-year-old daughter is currently bed-ridden and they’re not sure what they’ll do now.
“Everything was in line and we had the trust, and (Shamji) was compassionate. He explained everything in layman’s terms so we could understand,” Michelle Crawford said.
“Desperate,” Wilson said, “Desperate would be the best way to put it. I mean my life was in this man’s hands.”