4 killed in Markham, Ont., were part of the same family, friend says

Details have begun to emerge about a family that friends and neighbours say were the victims of a quadruple homicide in Markham, Ont., on the weekend.

Menhaz Zaman, 23, charged with 4 counts of 1st-degree murder in slayings

CBC Toronto has not confirmed the names of the grandmother, far left, and mother, second from left, who lived in the Markham, Ont., house where four people were found dead. More details have emerged about Malesa Zaman, second from right, and Moniruz Zaman, far right. (Facebook)

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

Details have begun to emerge about a family that friends and neighbours say were the victims of a quadruple homicide in Markham, Ont., on the weekend.

The organizer of a fundraiser set up to collect money for funeral costs wrote in an online post that Malesa Zaman, her father, Moniruz Zaman, and Malesa's mother and grandmother were killed in their home. CBC Toronto has not confirmed the names of Malesa's mother and grandmother.

Afnan Alibaccas said that she knew the family for more than 12 years and that Malesa was her best friend.

"We first met in the third grade and I've grown with her ever since," Alibaccas said in the post on the website GoFundMe.

"I'm deeply broken over this situation and want nothing more than to do everything I can to help assist her relatives."

A spokesperson for GoFundMe confirmed that the fundraiser has been verified through the website's internal vetting process.

Ammara Riaz, a former tenant of the family, said that all four lived in their Markham home with 23-year-old Menhaz Zaman, who has been charged with four counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths.

York Regional Police have said only that the victims were three women and a man. Their identities will be released by investigators once post-mortem examinations are completed, police said. 

Toronto-based Beck Taxi said in a statement that Moniruz, Menhaz's father, worked as a driver for the company and had been employed since 2011. 

"It's an extremely shocking and sad time," said Beck Taxi spokesperson Kristine Hubbard.

"We're devastated to hear about what has happened and our thoughts are with their family and friends."

Robin Islam, who described himself as a longtime family friend, told The Canadian Press on Tuesday that Moniruz and his wife came to Canada from Bangladesh in the 1980s seeking a better life. The couple celebrated their 25th wedding anniversary last month, Islam said.

The family was social and enjoyed spending time with friends, he added.

"They were always very happy, nice and decent family," the 45-year-old Islam said. "We'd sit in the same corner and we'd talk, we'd go to family barbecues."

Sunny Shah Lalani went to high school with Malesa. She has since moved to Texas, but the pair kept in touch and Shah Lalani said they last saw each other in 2018. 

"Honestly, she was the kindest person I've known," she told CBC Toronto in a brief phone interview.

She also knew Menhaz, Malesa's brother, and described him as a "very quiet" person.

Meanwhile, Riaz said Monday that she never would have expected Menhaz to be charged with such violent crimes. 

Online messages that Menhaz appears to have sent to fellow gamers on a popular communication app called Discord, however, paint a picture of a deeply troubled man. 

In text messages sent to at least two people, a user going by the name Menhaz talks about murdering his family. Some of the messages were sent in the months leading up to the slayings, while others — along with extremely graphic images of dead bodies and bloody weapons — appear to have been sent after the killings.

CBC News has not independently confirmed that the Discord user Menhaz is in fact Menhaz Zaman. Two sources whose identities CBC News has agreed to protect said through playing online video games with the user Menhaz for several years, they had come to know it was indeed Menhaz Zaman. 

With files from The Canadian Press