Toronto man charged in stabbing death of mosque volunteer
TORONTO -- Police have charged a Toronto man in connection with the murder of a volunteer caretaker who was stabbed to death last week while working at a mosque in the city’s Rexdale neighbourhood.
It happened on Sept. 12 at approximately 8:40 p.m. at the International Muslim Organization (IMO) mosque near Rexdale Boulevard and Bergamot Avenue, west of Islington Avenue.
The victim was sitting on a chair in front of the mosque controlling entry into the building to comply with public health measures when the suspect approached and fatally stabbed him, police allege.
Emergency crews were called and located the victim suffering from a stab wound to his neck. He was pronounced deceased at the scene.
The victim was later identified as Toronto resident Mohamed-Aslim Zafis. He was 58-years-old.
Zafis' funeral, hosted metres away from where he was attacked, drew hundreds of mourners to the mosque parking lot in Etobicoke this week. He was remembered at the service as a gentle soul who was dedicated to helping others in need and was volunteering at the time he was killed.
On Friday, police announced that they had made an arrest in connection with the stabbing.
Guilherme “William” Von Neutegem, 34, of Toronto has been charged with first-degree murder.
Speaking to reporters, Insp. Hank Idsinga, the head of Toronto's homicide unit, said the victim and the suspect did not know eachother.
“At this stage in the investigation, there does not appear to be any motive and there does not appear to be any known relationship between the accused and our victim,” Idsinga said.
“We are actively working with our partners in the justice system to secure search warrants and other judicial authorizations that will further our investigation.”
Police are asking anyone with information to contact police or Crime Stoppers.
A vigil is planned for Zafis on Saturday afternoon, where the International Muslim Organization said it will thank police for their work on the case, and ask that the possibility of a hate crime be explored.
'Too soon' to say if suspect is responsible for stabbing death of Rampreet (Peter) Singh
Earlier this week, Toronto police urged residents in the area to “be aware of their surroundings” as they investigated a possible link between Zafis’ murder and the death of Rampreet (Peter) Singh.
Singh’s body was found under the Highway 27 Bridge on the West Humber Trail just south of Humber College Boulevard by a jogger on Sept. 7., roughly five kilometres from where Zafis was killed.
Police said the man in his 30s was living under the bridge and was sleeping when he was attacked by an unknown offender.
On Monday, Idsinga noted the similarities in the two investigations, inlcuding the close proximity of the crime scenes and that both victims were of “similar ethnicities.”
However, Idsinga said it was “too soon” to say if Von Neutegem was responsible for Singh’s death. He added that he was “not willing” to attach the suspect "label" to Von Neutegem at this stage of the investigation.
With files from the Canadian Press.