New details revealed about days Indian family spent in Ontario before freezing to death near U.S. border
Investigators have revealed new details about the days a family from India spent in Ontario before making it to Manitoba, where their bodies were found frozen in a field near the U.S. border last year.
But a full year after the discovery of the bodies of Dharmik Patel, 3, his sister, Vihangi Patel, 11, and their parents, Vaishali Patel, 37, and Jagdish Patel, 39, Manitoba RCMP say they still haven’t accounted for two days of the family’s journey.
In a news release issued Thursday — the one-year anniversary of the deaths — Mounties said new information about the family’s travel in Canada was confirmed following an episode of CBC’s The Fifth Estate that aired in October 2022 and an RCMP news release put out around the same time.
Investigators have now put together a timeline of what happened from around 2:30 p.m. ET on Jan. 12, 2022 — when the family’s flight landed at Toronto Pearson International Airport — to Jan. 16, when they reached their last known Ontario location in the area of Mississauga.
WATCH | The Patel family arriving at the airport in Toronto:
From Ontario to Manitoba
Mounties said after the Patels were picked up from the airport by a private vehicle, they stayed at a hotel in the Mississauga area until Jan. 13. As RCMP previously said, the family used private vehicles and a ride-sharing service to get around.
From Jan. 14 to 16, the family moved between the Mississauga area and the city of Welland, southeast of Hamilton, the release said. RCMP later clarified the Patels stayed overnight in both locations — at a home in Welland and at hotels in Mississauga.
Investigators believe the family arrived in Manitoba shortly after leaving the Mississauga area.
They got to Emerson, a southern Manitoba community near the U.S. border, sometime in the late evening of Jan. 18 to begin their attempted crossing — but Mounties said they don’t know if the family was in Manitoba earlier than this.
The bodies of the Patel family were discovered near the border on the morning of Jan. 19.
Mounties said their investigation has also determined the family’s journey “was an organized and thought-out operation likely being run by a human smuggling network.”
The timeline leaves a gap of two days between when the family left the Mississauga area and when they got to the border where they later died. Investigators still don’t know how the Patels got from southern Ontario to Emerson.
The RCMP also told CBC on Thursday they are trying to learn what happened to the luggage the Patels were seen carrying in airport surveillance footage when they arrived on Jan. 12, as they did not have it with them when their bodies were found a week later.
Police still hope to get tips that will tell them more about the family’s journey, RCMP spokesperson Cpl. Julie Courchaine said.
“They travelled 2,000 kilometres within Canada, and [we’re] just hoping that people will come forward,” Courchaine said Thursday.
“Because we know someone facilitated them, someone saw them, they stayed somewhere.”
Information that would be helpful to investigators could at first seem insignificant, she said.
“Even if you don’t think it’s important … call it in, and it might be that small piece that helps us figure out the timeline and move forward with the investigation,” Courchaine said.
In the meantime, RCMP continue to investigate. Courchaine said that work will see some officers travel next week, though she declined to say where.
Mounties ask anyone with information about the family’s stay from Jan. 14 to 16 in the Mississauga area and the city of Welland, or about how they got from Ontario to Manitoba, to call Manitoba RCMP major crime services at 431-489-8551.
Tipsters can also report information anonymously to Crime Stoppers by calling 1-800-222-8477 or submitting a secure tip online.
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