Police say an Ontario murder suspect who has been on the run for almost a month in connection with the killing of his girlfriend has been spotted in Tennessee and is believed to be heading to Mexico.
Waterloo Regional Police responded to a 911 call at 38 Country Hill Dr. around 3 a.m. April 28 in Kitchener, Ont., where they said they found the body of 22-year-old Melinda Vasilije suffering from multiple stab wounds after a “targeted” attack.
Police said Vasilije’s boyfriend of about a year, 24-year-old Ager Hasan of Hamilton, was the lead suspect in her death and is wanted on a Canada-wide warrant for second-degree murder and breach of recognizance.
With the help of Hamilton police, Waterloo officers spoke to friends of Hasan on April 28 and determined he had fled the province in a black 2016 Honda HR-V with Ontario licence plate BPKT509.
Police immediately connected with American law enforcement agencies, the Canada Border Services Agency and the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. It was then determined Hasan had crossed the border undetected at around 5:45 a.m.
Hours later at around 10 a.m. April 28, State Police in Erie County, Pa., said they observed Hasan on surveillance footage in a Walmart parking lot steal a Pennsylvania licence plate and affix it to his car in place of his Ontario plate.
Waterloo police announced Wednesday they received a tip from U.S. authorities that Hasan had been spotted at a truck stop off Interstate 40 in Hurricane Mills, Tennessee, around 8:15 p.m. on May 20.
“We did receive information that a person had a conversation with someone who they determined to be Ager Hasan,” Waterloo Regional Police Insp. Mike Haffner told Global News Wednesday.
“Mr. Hasan did advise this person that he had plans to head towards Texas, possibly in an attempt to cross the border.”
Haffner said it’s believed Hasan is driving the same Honda HR-V with either Ontario or Pennsylvania licence plates, but investigators have not been able to determine that with 100 per cent certainty.
“Right now our investigators are working with Tennessee authorities to determine any surveillance video — anything that may be available to continue the investigation,” Haffner said, adding officers are working with U.S. authorities from a wide variety of local and national law enforcement agencies.
“Obviously our main concern, our main focus, is either to locate Mr. Hasan and either encourage him to turn himself in to a U.S. law enforcement station or have U.S. authorities arrest him down there.”
Haffner said Hasan’s family or friends in Canada may have had contact with him and if so investigators are encouraging them to urge him to surrender. He added friends and family had been cooperating “positively” with police.
“We’re thankful that someone in the United States reached out to us and provided us with information that he was located in Tennessee,” Haffner said.
“But he still has connections with friends and family and relatives and we would just hope that the information gets sent to him properly and that he makes the right decision and turns himself in.”
Haffner said Hasan’s appearance has changed since April 28, in contrast to the description police initially gave of him, adding that he now has “shaved, short hair.”
Days after Vasilije’s death, a post on the website Reddit emerged that appeared to describe her killing in vivid detail and was purported to be written by Hasan himself.
“I understand the early judgements made by society, distancing myself makes it seem like I am trying to escape a crime. I’m not. I’m only trying to give myself some space and fully take in what happened before I turn myself in,” the May 2 post read.
“The fact is no one is more destroyed than I am. She was more than a girlfriend, a soon to be fiance, she was my everything. What happened that night was nothing but tragic.”
The post said the relationship between the suspect and the victim had been the first serious one for them both. It said they had travelled the world together, their families had met and they had been talking seriously about getting married and having children.
“Melinda and I got into an argument via text and our relationship ended. I went to her apartment that day, to try and talk,” the post read. “As I’m getting ready to leave she asks me if I had done anything with any other girls while we were on break or anytime we were on break. I told her we needed to be honest and said yes and told her about it.”
“She started freaking out. Wouldn’t say a word and just kept slapping me with tears in her eyes. Slaps turned into hits. I told her I was sorry but if she didn’t stop I’d do something back. She didn’t stop. I then stupidly pushed her, harder than I expected. She fell against the sink.”
The author of the post claimed it was the “first time” they had ever done something physically “violent” to the victim, adding he had apologized but she then told them to leave, then grabbed a knife and came at him “in full force, aiming towards my face.”
“I tell her to stop. She doesn’t, I tried grabbing the knife but ended up cutting my hands. After a few cuts I lost it. I freaked out, I was scared and in a state of shock. Never in a hundred years did I think she would use a knife against me,” the post said.
“Out of shock and fear I grab one. I hit her with it, almost blindly. A few times. I didn’t know what happened. I was confused, shocked and scared.”
The poster said they didn’t intend for the incident to happen and left thinking “she just passed out.”
“I honestly had no intentions of ever doing that to her, I was protecting myself.”
The author of the post also referred to always keeping a passport in his car and claims to have driven directly to the U.S. with only $200 in his pocket to “get away for a few days before turning myself in or killing myself.”
“It was out of fear and protecting myself alongside shock. I’m sorry, to everyone. Especially Melinda’s family,” the author said.
“I know it will not will be accepted but know I didn’t mean anything bad to happened that night when I went there. Rest in peace my beautiful. I hope you forgive me in the after life.”
The post also included screenshots of a text message conversation purported to be between the two and photos of them as a couple.
Waterloo Regional Police said Wednesday they were unable to comment on the authenticity of the post because it is “evidence,” but said that it was being evaluated by officers.
“For us to comment on it would be somewhat inappropriate although investigators have looked at it and they are investigating it but to speak to the validity or the author of that post would be something that eventually could up in court,” Haffner said.
“Ultimately our goal and our focus is to locate Mr. Hasan as soon as we can. That’s what we’ve been doing since April 28, although difficult because the U.S. is quite vast, we’ve been getting great cooperation from our partners down in the U.S.”
Police have not definitively connected the Reddit post to the investigation into Vasilije’s death and Global News has not been able to independently verify the authenticity of the post.
Anyone with information is asked to contact police at 519-653-7700 ext. 8666 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Read the full Reddit post:
Read the alleged text conversation: