Calgary

Former Calgary Stampeder's 2018 death now deemed suspicious, with 4 sought in ring thefts

The death of former Calgary Stampeder linebacker Mike Labinjo, who was found dead inside his Calgary home two years ago, is now considered suspicious as police seek four people they think stole from him.

NFL and CFL championship rings included in missing items

Mike Labinjo played with the Calgary Stampeders from 2007 to 2010 and helped the team win the Grey Cup in 2008. Twenty months after he was found dead in his home, Calgary police say the death is suspicious. (Jeff McIntosh/The Canadian Press)

The death of former Calgary Stampeder linebacker Mike Labinjo, who was found dead inside his Calgary home two years ago, is now considered suspicious as police seek four people they think stole from him.

At the time of the 38-year-old's death, police did not believe it was criminal. 

But security camera footage shows four people entering Labinjo's apartment in the early morning of Sept. 21, 2018, just hours before he was found dead, according to Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta.

Police said in a release Monday that they have reclassified Labinjo's death as suspicious after family members reported many of his personal belongings to be missing following his death.

These four people are suspects in the theft of numerous items and sports memorabilia belonging from former Stampeder Mike Labinjo. Police believe they might also have information related to his suspicious death in 2018. (Calgary Police Service)

The Calgary Police Service launched a theft investigation that revealed numerous items and sports memorabilia had been stolen from Labinjo's home immediately after his death, including two football championship rings bearing his name.

One is a ring from his time with the NFL's Philadelphia Eagles and another is a Calgary Stampeders ring. Neither one has ever been recovered. 

Photos of four theft suspects have been released by police, and investigators are looking to the public for help identifying the two men and two women.

Police believe the four people might also have information related Labinjo's death.

Mike Labinjo's championship rings from his time with the Philadelphia Eagles and the Calgary Stampeders were stolen immediately after his death and have never been recovered. (Calgary Police Service)

Schiavetta said police are now trying to figure out if Labinjo's death was intentional, if he was killed to facilitate the theft of his personal items.

"We know there are people in the community who have information," said Schiavetta. "We need those people to come forward."

Schiavetta said that along with results from the medical examiner's office and the security camera footage, police also received "additional information from members of the public," which led police to reclassify the death as suspicious.

"He was a caring, kind, gentle and loving person," said Labinjo's brother Randy in a written statement. "I love him. When I lost him, I lost a part of myself that I can never regain."

Randy Labinjo said his brother left behind a daughter who "was his world."

Mike Labinjo's mother Margaret and brother Randy appear at Calgary police headquarters in an effort to appeal to the public for more information on his death. (Calgary Police Service/YouTube.com)

The victim's mother pleaded with the public for information. 

"Michael, you did not deserve to die this way," said Margaret Labinjo.

"I am going to make sure whoever did this to you are held responsible. I will fight to the end for justice to be served. I love you son forever."

Two of the four people suspected in the theft of Mike Labinjo's personal items are seen here on CCTV footage from his condo building hours before he was found dead inside. (Calgary Police Service)

Labinjo was a six-foot, 285-pound Toronto native who played at Michigan State from 2000 to 2003 before he was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in the 2003.

Instead, Labinjo signed in 2004 as a free agent with the Philadelphia Eagles, playing in the team's Super Bowl loss to the New England Patriots.

He was released by the Eagles in 2005 and played in both Indianapolis and Miami for a total of 10 career NFL games before he was let go by the Dolphins in 2007.

The linebacker then played for the Stamps from 2007 to 2010, including in the 2008 Grey Cup win over Montreal, before he was released from the team in 2011.

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