A father who was supposed to be helping his 11-year-old daughter celebrate her birthday has now been charged with first-degree murder in her death.
Roopesh Rajkumar is currently in police custody in a trauma centre being treated for an undisclosed medical condition.
Const. Danny Marttini said the suspect was taken to a hospital after his arrest shortly after midnight, and was later transferred to a trauma unit.
The body of Riya Rajkumar was found at a home on Hansen Road North, near Queen Street and Kennedy Road, in Brampton shortly after an Amber Alert was issued following her disappearance. The girl’s mother had gone to police after Rajkumar allegedly failed to return the girl on time after taking her out for her birthday.
“It’s very heart-wrenching,” Marttini said, noting that both mother and daughter shared a birthday. “We have to remember that this is a family, and she’s now moving forward without her daughter. It’s very traumatic.”
Riya was a student at Meadowvale Village Public School, which is located on Old Derry Road near Meadowvale Road in Mississauga.
“Our hearts go out to Riya’s friends and loved ones,” the school said in a letter to parents that was posted on its website on Friday. “Riya was a well-liked student, and her death is deeply felt by everyone at the school.”
“This tragedy has brought tremendous sadness to the students and staff at Meadowvale Village Public School. Members of the Peel District School Board’s Critical Incident Response Team have been at the school today to provide support to Riya’s friends and classmates, as well as other students and staff. The counsellors will remain here as long as they are needed.”
The 11-year-old girl did not live with her father on a full-time basis, police said. She was dropped off at a gas station near Hurontario Street and Derry Road in Mississauga around 3 p.m. Thursday so he could take her out for her birthday.
When he failed to return the child to her mother at 6:30 p.m. she notified police.
Marttini said the mother came into 22 division around 7 p.m. and told officers that she received concerning comments from Roopesh about harming himself and his daughter.
The Amber Alert was issued at 11 p.m. Peel police said Riya was found dead around midnight, and her father was arrested by provincial police a short time later while driving on Highway 11 in Oro-Medonte.
“My heart aches for this family, and as a parent, I can’t even begin to imagine what the mom is going through,” Peel police Const. Akhil Mooken said.
“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, you expect your child to come home.”
Peel police’s homicide and missing persons unit have taken over the investigation.
From 7 p.m. until when the Amber Alert was issued, police said they were searching for the father and daughter. But when the pair was not found, investigators notified OPP and an Amber Alert was issued.
Police found Riya’s body at 11:30 p.m. and then her father was arrested in a high-risk takedown with the OPP, which Peel police would not elaborate further.
Marttini said the father, who was the mother’s ex-boyfriend, was staying in a section of the home in Brampton. However, police have not said how the home is connected to Roopesh and his family.
As police continue to investigate the murder, they also expressed frustration with people who called 911 to complain about the late hour the alert was sent. But police said it was thanks to someone receiving the alert that they were able to find the suspect and his vehicle in Orillia.
the child outweighed the momentary inconvenience that some people encountered. Tragically this incident did not have the outcome we were all hoping for but the suspect was located as a direct result of a citizen receiving the alert and calling 9-1-1. The system works. 2/2
— Cst. Akhil Mooken (@OfficerMooken) February 15, 2019