Missing Toronto girl's mom contacted after remains found

The mother of a Toronto teenager who has been missing since 2009 has confirmed that she was contacted by police and is "expecting a call" after a body was found Thursday, but police have not yet identified the remains.
Police are investigating after human remains were discovered near Yonge Street and Highway 401. (Neil Herland/CBC)

The mother of a Toronto teenager who has been missing since 2009 has confirmed that she was contacted by police and is expecting a call after a body was found Thursday.

Police forensics crews have been scouring an underpass at Yonge Street and Highway 401 to help identify human remains found there.

CBC’s John Lancaster reported Thursday evening that he had talked to Lela Tabidze, the mother of missing teen Mariam Makhniashvili, who has been informed by police that a body had been found.

Police have not yet identified the remains.

Mariam's father, Vakhtang Makhniashvili, was sentenced in December to six years in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing three people in 2010.

Lawyer Calvin Barry, who represented Mariam's father when he was sentenced in December, said he has been in touch with Tabidze and police since the human remains were found.

Barry said he has also been attempting to get in touch with Makhniashvili, who is at Millhaven Penitentiary, to give him updates.

"I really think [the police] are reaching out. …They're trying to do their best just to cover all their bases right now," Barry said when asked how common it is for police to contact the families of missing persons in such cases.

Few details about the investigation have been released, but the remains were found on the banks of a ravine and have been there for two to three years.

Construction workers near the site said they were told the remains were those of a woman, but police have not confirmed that.

Area resident Ron Martin says the site is tucked away and few people would have known about it.

"I used to walk the dog up through here but you don't see anybody," he said. "In the summertime you might see the odd transient coming out from the bush … but other than that it's very quiet."

Homicide investigators are trying to determine the sex of the remains and are looking through missing persons reports over the past two to three years.

Makhniashvili was last seen on Sept. 14, 2009, when she left her home for Forest Hill Collegiate Institute in Toronto with her brother.

The siblings decided to enter the school through different doors, and Mariam, then 17 years old, has not been seen since.

With files from CBC's John Lancaster