Monday, September 28, 2009

Toronto police expand search for missing teenager

Police have expanded their search across the country and overseas for a missing Toronto teenager.

"Our efforts are going to be outside of Toronto," Const. Wendy Drummond said Monday. "We're asking for assistance from the rest of Canada, United States and [the Republic of] Georgia, where she came from."

Mariam Makhniashvili, 17, was last seen by her family on Sept. 14 when she left home near Bathurst Street and Eglinton Avenue W. for Forest Hill Collegiate Institute with her brother. The two separated once they arrived at school. She didn't make it to class and hasn't been seen or heard from since.

A community-level command post outside of the girl's north Toronto home was taken down Sunday after tips stopped coming in, Drummond said, adding the lack of solid leads in the case is frustrating investigators.

"We've taken to the air, we've taken to the water, we've taken to the land, we've gone internet. At this point, all have proven negative," she said

On Friday, a police helicopter searched a Toronto park and surrounding green space, but turned up nothing substantial.

Last week, police released 15 seconds of security camera video of the girl and her brother at Toronto's Union Station the night before she went missing.

Makhniashvili and her younger brother George lived with their grandparents in Tblisi, Georgia, before coming to Toronto in June to be reunited with their parents who had been living in California. The girl speaks little English and has only been in Canada for three months.

Makhniashvili is five feet three inches tall, with light brown, shoulder-length hair and brown eyes. She was last seen wearing black pants, a light blue shirt and a dark blue jean jacket. She was carrying a large black backpack with a green stripe.

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