Community, police continue search effort for missing 30-year-old York University student
Family and friends of a 30-year-old Vaughan woman who has been missing since Thursday are concerned for her well-being.
York Regional Police said Zabia Afzal was last seen Thursday around 10:40 a.m. in the area of Ashbridges Bay in Toronto. Investigators said she had also been seen an hour earlier in the area of Highway 400 and Major Mackenzie Drive West.
The York University student is described as 5’4″ and 128 lbs. She has shoulder-length dark brown hair and was last seen wearing black pants, a black or navy zippered hooded sweatshirt and a green floral shirt.
Her belongings, including her sweatshirt, cell phone and shoes were found on the rocks at the Bay, Afzal’s cousin Iftikhar Ahmad told Global News on Monday.
Two police forces are investigating the disappearance. Officers in York are collecting and investigating tips from the public, while Toronto police are searching the water around where she was last seen.
On Monday, divers from the Toronto Police Marine Unit could been see searching Lake Ontario near where Afzal’s belongings were found.
A social media campaign using the #findzabia and the Twitter handle @findzabia has been launched by friends and family in an attempt to find her.
“Family and friends of missing York student, community activist appeal to Torontonians for support,” said one tweet attached to a statement on behalf of Afzal.
Three search parties took place Sunday — one at the Scarborough Bluffs, one at the Toronto Islands and another at Thorncliffe Park.
“We are asking all the community which is close to whichever search is going on if they can join us as well,” said Zubair Afzal, Zabia’s older brother, to reporters on Sunday. “We have received an outpouring of support from the community itself and we are very grateful for that.”
“Our family has gone through a big trauma, obviously it is a sad incident for all of us as well. We love her very dearly and we are hoping and praying that we can locate her as soon as possible,” he said.
Zubair told Global News on Monday that Zabia was being treated for depression, but he does not want to believe that her mental state has anything to do with her disappearance.
“If there was something, we as family, we think she would have told us about it because as in the past many months, if there was something on her mind, she was being quite responsive and telling us about it,” he said.
Fifteen-thousand posters have been plastered all over Toronto – from the east-end community where she was last seen to the downtown core and up to York University, where she is a PhD student.
The statement also requests anyone with dashcam video or information from Woodbine Beach on Thursday between 10:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. to contact police. People are also asked to use the #FindZabia to post any information about Afzal.
Anyone with information is asked to contact the York Regional Police #4 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 1-866-876-5423, ext.7441 or call Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.
—With files from The Canadian Press and Catherine McDonald
© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.