The mother of a prominent Toronto physician whose neurosurgeon husband is accused of murder in her death said the family will continue to attend court to “be her voice.”
The body of Dr. Elana Fric was found badly beaten and strangled in a suitcase on Dec. 1 in Kleinburg, Ont., after a local resident walking on a bridge near the West Humber River notified police.
Dr. Mohammed Shamji was charged with one count of first-degree murder in the death of 40-year-old Fric the following day.
Fric’s parents and cousins appeared in court today and said they “stand united as one big family to show support” for her.
“We’ll continue to come to be her voice since she cannot speak, we have to speak for her and for her children that she left behind,” Ana Fric, Elana’s mother, said outside a Toronto court Thursday.
“Three small beautiful children, they are in our care now.”
WATCH: Vigil held at Queen’s Park to remember Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji and victims of domestic abuse
Fric worked at the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital as a family doctor and was last seen on the night of Nov. 30. Her mother had reported her missing the following day.
A statement from the hospital released Dec. 5 said staff were “shocked and saddened by” her “tragic death.”
Dr. Virginia Walley, chair of the Ontario Medical Association, described Fric as a “talented family physician who was active in many efforts to improve the health-care system.”
Shamji made a video appearance in court Thursday and will next appear in court Feb. 16 at 10 a.m. He has been in custody since Dec. 2.
Before his arrest, Shamji worked as a neurosurgeon at Toronto Western Hospital and was also a faculty member at the University of Toronto.
In a statement released by the family shortly after her death, relatives of Fric thanked police, her colleagues at the Scarborough and Rouge Hospital, the Children’s Aid Society and said they were especially grateful for the support shown for her three young children.
Anna Fric said Thursday the children were struggling with the loss of Elana and were now in the care of their grandparents.
“They’re doing — depends. They’ve got their days,” she said. “They miss their mother very much.”
The family had previously asked that donations be made in Elana Fric’s honour to two charities; the Shelter Movers of Toronto, which helps those leaving abusive households, and the Canadian Centre for Immigrant and Refugee Health Care.
WATCH: What happened in the hours before it was determined that Dr. Elana Fric-Shamji was murdered?