Mariam Makhniashvili's death a suspected suicide
Toronto police said Friday they believe Mariam Makhniashvili, the Toronto teen missing since September 2009, died following a fall from a "significant height."
Police also confirmed on Friday that skeletal remains found last week in a wooded area are Makhniashvili's. The Toronto teen disappeared outside her high school two and a half years ago.
Two men on a walk discovered human remains 10 days ago in a wooded area near Yonge Street and Highway 401. The remains had been there for two to three years.
At a press conference Friday, Toronto police Staff Insp. Greg McLane said the cause of death was consistent with a fall from a "significant height" and that she was likely alive at the time of the fall.
Police said they are not considering the case a homicide or a suspicious death. A highway overpass runs above the spot where the remains were found.
"The location where she was found was consistent with a fall from that overpass," said McLane."The findings are not consistent with that of a homicide or a suspicious death."
When asked if Mariam committed suicide, McLane said the post-mortem results "could be consistent with that conclusion."
He said the identity of the remains was confirmed through DNA testing.
Makhniashvili was last seen on Sept. 14, 2009, when she left her home for Forest Hill Collegiate Institute with her brother.
The siblings decided to enter the school through different doors, and Mariam, then 17 years old, was not seen again.
Family had just arrived to Canada
The Makhniashvili family, originally from the Republic of Georgia, had only been in Toronto for three months when their daughter disappeared.
The parents lived in Los Angeles for five years before moving to Toronto, while Mariam and her brother lived with their grandparents in Georgia.
Youth Assisting Youth www.yay.org 1-877-932-1919
Kids' Help Phone www.kidshelpphone.ca 1-800-668-6868
In the first year following her disappearance, police spent thousands of hours investigating, interviewing several thousand people and poring over evidence.
The only solid clue was the discovery of her backpack and some school books in a parking lot the following month.
In charges unrelated to Mariam's disappearance, her father, Vakhtang Makhniashvili, was sentenced in December to six years in prison after pleading guilty to stabbing three people in 2010.
The charges followed two separate stabbing incidents, one involving a neighbour and the other a couple who had posted his bail.
Police were asked Friday why extensive searches for Makhniashvili conducted in the weeks following her disappearance failed to discover the remains.
"The information I have is that that specific area was not part of the original search grid. However, the original search grid did come close to that particular area," said McLane.
Timeline: The Makhniashvili case
Click here to read a timeline about the disappearance of Mariam Makhniashvili.
Det. Sgt. Dan Nealon said investigators still have more people they want to speak with about Makhniashvili's death. Police also want to review video from overhead highway cameras in the area.
He said the case was a difficult one for police.
"We weren't getting any further with respect to a criminal investigation. Most missing people when they do go, there is some sort of a trail that leads the police somewhere. In this case there wasn't any."
"There was no concrete or specific evidence to point in one way or the other as to where she may have disappeared to."
With files from The Canadian Press