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ONTARIO: Mistaken Markham child abduction case closed: York police

After the five-year-old was found safe, York Regional Police learned her father was permitted to pick up his daughter from school
YRP crime scene police car
Supplied photo/York Regional Police

The case of the five-year-old Markham girl believed to have been abducted from her elementary school unlawfully by her father on March 19 has now been closed, York Regional Police said today.

“The father was released that night and no charges were laid,” Const. Andy Pattenden said.

York police were notified by Jannah Jaffri’s mother that her daughter was missing after she turned up at the Markham school and learned the young student had been picked up early, about 2 p.m., by her husband, Pattenden said.

Early in the investigation, York police believed Jannah’s father, Soloman Jaffri, had signed her out of her Markham school unlawfully.

A provincewide Amber Alert was issued at about 5:17 p.m. Tuesday that included descriptions and photos of both the girl and her father.

Just before 6 p.m. Tuesday, York police received a call from a store owner in the Rodick Road and Hwy. 7 area of Markham, who had seen the Amber Alert and indicated he could see Jannah and her father nearby.

Officers quickly located Jannah, who was unharmed and in good health. Her father was taken into custody without incident, and later released.

Pattenden said the force later learned that the father was permitted to pick up his daughter from school.

“But at the time, that wasn’t the information that we were working with. We work with the best evidence we had at the time, and we had every reason to believe the child was in danger and we were acting accordingly,” he said.

York Region District School Board education director Louise Sirisko posted a message to the community on the board's website March 20 in an effort to clear up what she said was confusion about school safety protocols for picking up students.

“It is understandable that, after hearing the news of this case, parents may be looking for answers or clarification on what occurred at the school (March 19),” Sirisko said. “I want to correct some inaccurate media reports. Our elementary school doors are locked during the instructional day and only parents/guardians or other authorized persons can sign out a child from an elementary school office. This is what occurred during this situation and what occurs throughout our system regularly. The school was not made aware of any restrictions for the signing out of this student.”

Sirisko continued: “Our first priority is always student safety and I want to thank the school staff for working diligently and assisting York Regional Police with their investigation. I also want to thank York police for their swift response.”

For more information on the school board’s arrival and departure policy and procedure, visit here.