Search Still on for Miriam - Toronto Police Service (September 14, 2010)

Mariam, you have not been forgotten.

It was the message from family and police on the one-year anniversary of the disappearance of the-then 17-year-old Mariam Makhniashvili from the streets of midtown Toronto.

Mariam was last seen after walking to school with her younger brother George as they arrived at Forest Hill Collegiate Institute – their new school after moving to Toronto with their parents in June 2009.

Lead investigator 53 Division D/Sgt Dan Nealon said at a headquarters press conference Sept. 14 that police are baffled by the mysterious disappearance of a girl described as quiet and shy.

“At outset of this case police and family alike approached this investigation to expect the worst and hope for the best,” Nealon said.

“The message today is Mariam you have not been forgotten.”

He said there has been no solid evidence to suggest she had been abducted or lured away, that she was depressed or suicidal or ran away.

“Unfortunately through all the work and efforts we’re still no further ahead than the day that Mariam went missing. Although our hope to reunite Mariam with her family has faded there is still some amount of hope that still exists,” Nealon said, renewing his pledge to solve the case.

“This case is not going to be shelved.”

He said someone out there knows the truth.

“I know there is someone out there who has knowledge of where Mariam is or what happened to her.”

Sightings of Mariam across Canada have been investigated and found to be false.

53 Division S/Insp Larry Sinclair said many officers have spent thousands of hours on the investigation questioning thousands of people, reviewing surveillance tape over several kilometres around the site of her disappearance and searched miles of greenspace for any trace of Mariam.

A review of the investigation by over a dozen fresh investigators in late fall last year showed detectives had covered all aspects of the investigation.

“The Makhniashvili family have been through a year of anguish and stress,” Sinclair said, turning his attention to Mariam’s parents Vakhtang Makhniahsvili and Lela Tabidze who attended the press conference.

“I promise you any information coming to our attention related Mariam’s disappearance will be investigated as diligently today as it was one year ago.”

Vakhtang Makhniahsvili thanked the police, media and the residents of the neighbourhood where she disappeared – many of whom opened their homes to police investigators to search.

The Missing Children Society of Canada has offered a $10,000 reward for information leading to Mariam’s whereabouts.

MCSC executive director Amanda Pick said the reward will hopefully bring attention back to the case and gives the family renewed hope.

“It’s offering hope. At the end of the day when do you stop searching? – you don’t.”

Anyone with information is asked to call investigators at 416-808-5300 or leave a tip through Crime Stoppers anonymously at 416−222−TIPS (8477), online at www.222tips.com [1], text TOR and your message to CRIMES (274637), or Leave A Tip on Facebook.

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