MISSING : Ani Ashekian

Canadian Tourist Last Seen in Hong Kong on 9 November 2008

HK$200,000 / US$25,000 Reward

for any information leading to her whereabouts

PUBLIC APPEAL FOR ASSISTANCE

Tel/SMS +852 9886 0043 | +1 519 999 8041 | FindAni@gmail.com or FindAniAshekian@gmail.com

Share/Bookmark

SCMP - 8 November 2009

   

Watch : CNNRTHK ReportTVB News | SCMP Video

Read : Police Bulletin | News Articles | News ReleasesFacebook

Help : Circulate an email | Circulate a poster | Contact Us

Ani Ashekian : 163cm tall / 5' 4" | 55kg/120lb | Age 31 | Canadian Accent

(Updated : 5 December 2009)

These photos were taken in Beijing ... more photos

Ani Ashekian has been missing in Hong Kong since 11 November 2008.

Ashekian flew from Toronto to Beijing on Friday 24 October 2008 and was scheduled return via India on December 15 but she has not been seen since November 10 in Hong Kong.

Authorities on the case have appealed for public assistance. Ashekian's passport indicates that she entered Hong Kong on November 9 and that she has not left Hong Kong. Ani was last seen in Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui on the morning of November 10. Hong Kong Police confirmed via CCTV footage that a cash withdrawal (HK$3000/CAD$470) was made by Ani just after midnight on November 10 in the Causeway Bay MTR station. Records show no further transactions on her bank accounts since that date.

On 10 November, she called her sister and sent a text with a birthday message for her niece. Family and friends who heard from her regularly until then have had no contact since. The Foreign Affairs Department was contacted and Canadian authorities made a report to the Hong Kong Police on December 9, who made a public appeal for assistance. The Ashekian family is offering a HKD$200,000/CAD$31,500  reward for any information leading to her whereabouts.

Anyone who may have seen her is urged to contact the HK Island Regional Crime Unit at +852 2860 7834, any police station or the 24 hour hotline +852 9886 0043 designated for this case.

 
 

LISTEN : Click on the audio link next to "Find Ani" and listen to the radio interview with Ani's sister in Hong Kong appealing for her safety

We need your help in the volunteer search for Ani.

Facebook Volunteer Group - "Missing: Ani Ashekian"
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54077259736#/photo.php?pid=5182972&op=1&o=all&view=all&subj=54077259736&aid=-1&oid=54077259736&id=589530787

Photos
http://www.facebook.com/event.php?eid=41445137913

YouTube - 6 minute video

Mark favourite & share to increase rating

 

MISSING : Ani Ashekian

Send the following in an email message:

SUBJECT LINE : Canadian Tourist Missing in Hong Kong - HK$200,000 Reward

Ani Ashekian has been missing in Hong Kong since November 11, 2008 and authorities on the case have appealed for public assistance.

Ashekian flew from Toronto to Beijing on Friday, October 24, 2008 and was scheduled return via India on December 15 but she has not been seen since November 10.

The Ashekian family is offering a HKD$200,000/CAD$31,500 reward for any information leading to her whereabouts. Details and photographs are available on www.FindAni.com.

Ashekian's passport indicates that she entered Hong Kong on November 9 and that she has not left Hong Kong. Ani was last seen in Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui on the morning of November 10. Hong Kong Police confirmed via CCTV footage that a cash withdrawal (HK$3000/CAD$470) was made by Ani at just after midnight on November 10 in the Causeway Bay MTR station. Records show no further transactions on her bank accounts since that date.

On 10 November, Ani called her sister and sent a text with a birthday message for her niece. Family and friends who heard from her regularly until then have had no contact since. The Foreign Affairs Department was contacted and Canadian authorities made a report to the Hong Kong Police on December 9, who made a public appeal for assistance.

Unconfirmed reports place Ani throughout the territory, including Chung King Mansion, Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Lan Kwai Fong, Black’s Link, Po Lin Monastery, Tung Chung, Prince Edward, Yuen Long and the New Territories. The police continue to work closely with a team of local volunteers, actively following up leads received by telephone, email, people approaching volunteers on street and on the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” which has 12,945 members.

Ani is 31, 1.6 metres (5’ 4”) tall, of normal build and weighs about 54kg (120lbs) with light complexion and brown hair. She was last seen wearing a white shirt and carrying a backpack.

Anyone who may have seen her is urged to contact the Hong Kong Island Regional Crime Unit at 2860 7834 or any police station.

Please help by circulating this notice.

FindAni@gmail.com

--

www.FindAni.com

MISSING : ANI ASHEKIAN
AGE : 31
HEIGHT : 5'4" - 163cm
WEIGHT : 120 pounds - 55 kg. Athletic build
HAIR: Brown - Long - May be curly or straight
EYES: Brown
INTERESTS : yoga, local culture, exploring
CONTACTS : no friends or family in Hong Kong

She was traveling with a black and blue backpack; last seen wearing a white T-shirt.

top

Police Bulletin

Government of Canada
http://www.info.gov.hk/gia/general/200812/24/P200812240173.htm

Hong Kong Police
http://www.police.gov.hk/hkp-home/english/missing/detail.htm?id=256

Police today (December 24, 2008) appealed for information on a woman missing in Tsim Sha Tsui.

Ani Ashekian, 30, a Canadian who arrived in Hong Kong in November, was last seen in Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, on November 10. The Canadian authorities made a report to the Hong Kong Police on December 9.

She is about 1.6 metres tall, of normal build and weighs about 54kg. She has a pointed face, white complexion and long curly brown hair. She was last seen wearing white shirt and carrying a rucksack.

Anyone who knows the whereabouts of the missing woman or who may have seen her is urged to contact the Regional Missing Person Unit, Hong Kong Island, on (852) 2860-1045 or any police station.

ChungKing Mansion is a block of highrise famous for inexpensive short stay hostels for backpackers. The same appeal is also published in Chinese and in newspaper.

******

Facebook Group

http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54077259736#/photo.php?pid=5182972&op=1&o=all&view=all&subj=54077259736&aid=-1&oid=54077259736&id=589530787

(Facebook Discussion Board : posted 25 December)

The starting point for our Hong Kong volunteers is ChungKing Mansion. The whole area needs to be canvassed. Since we do not know which direction she went after staying at the ChungKing Mansion, that needs to be established first.

It would also explain the large withdrawal that she made and the lapse in communication. We have emailed the cruise lines to see if they have Ani as a passenger. If they do not reply, it would need to be checked in person.

Are there any Yoga retreats within a days travel from this location?

Does anyone have any other suggestions on where the volunteers in Hong Kong can look?

It would be best to get organized as quickly as possible so their search can be effective.

top

Ani Ashekian: A Young Tourist Missing in Hong Kong

I am writing to you seeking help to find our Daughter, our Sister, our Best Friend.

Ani is a bright, adventurous and vibrant young woman who has a passion for travel.

Her most recent trip was to Asia - specifically to China, India Vietnam and Cambodia. Before her departure Ani only had enough time to secure a visa to China and decided she would get the other necessary travel visa's while abroad.

She left the Toronto International airport on Friday, October 24th and was scheduled to return on the 15th of December.

The fact that Ani did not board her flight home on that day was not a surprise to her friends and family for they already knew something was amiss.

Initially, Ani had kept in regular contact with her family and friends during the trip.

However, November 10th was the last that anyone has heard from Ani.

When the calls and emails abruptly stopped people began to worry.

Ani's visa statement shows 2 cash advances on the 10th of November, it is unclear whether these withdrawals were made under duress.

She has not used her visa card or her bank card since that day.

Her passport indicates that she entered Hong Kong on November 9th but that she has not left Hong Kong.

Foreign Affairs and the media have been contacted.

top

International Media Coverage

The South China Morning Post (31 December 2008)
click here to read article

CityNews (13 January 2009)
http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_30948.aspx

The Toronto Sun (13 January 2009)
http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2009/01/14/8016561-sun.html

The Calgary Herald (13 January 2009)
http://www.calgaryherald.com/news/Family+appeals+help+find+missing+woman/1173706/story.html

The National Post (10 January 2009)
http://www.nationalpost.com/news/story.html?id=1161454

The Windsor Star (9 January 2009)
http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=7f2cea0d-45d3-499f-b9c6-c2c6639803ad

cnews (8 January 2009)
http://cnews.canoe.ca/CNEWS/Canada/2009/01/08/7955116-sun.html

The Montreal Gazette (8 January 2009)
http://www.montrealgazette.com/Missing+woman+spiritual+retreat+Sister/1155034/story.html

Canwest News Service (7 January 2009)
http://www.canada.com/topics/news/world/story.html?id=1151320

The South China Mornining Post (4 January 2009)
click here to read article

The Toronto Star (4 January 2009)
http://www.thestar.com/News/World/article/561518

The Windsor Star (3 January 2009)
http://www.windsorstar.com/Sister+pick+search+China/1138593/story.html

The Hong Kong Standard (2 January 2009)
http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=11&art_id=76380&sid=22062537&con_type=1&d_str=20081230&sear_year=2008

The Globe and Mail (1 January 2009)
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20090101.MISSING01/TPStory/National

The Toronto Star (1 January 2009)
http://www.thestar.com/article/560487

VIDEO : The Windsor Star (31 December 2008)
http://www.windsorstar.com/Video+What+happened/1131347/story.html

top

Global National (31 December 2008)
http://www.windsorstar.com/Video+What+happened/1131347/story.html

The Toronto Star (31 December 2008)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iBVWH97e4Z9b1LDjeJQ-lyNq8DTg

The Globe and Mail - 31 December 2009
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/servlet/story/LAC.20081231.MISSING31//TPStory/National

The Toronto Star (31 December 2008)
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iBVWH97e4Z9b1LDjeJQ-lyNq8DTg

The Toronto Sun (31 December 2008)
http://www.torontosun.com/news/torontoandgta/2008/12/31/7886021-sun.html

The South China Morning Post (31 December 2008)
click here to read article

TheSpec.com (31 December 2008)
http://www.thespec.com/News/BreakingNews/article/489186

Hong Kong Standard (30 December 2008)
click here to read article

VIDEO : CityNews Toronto (30 December 2008)
http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_30541.aspx

AUDIO : RTHK Radio 3 (30 December 2008)
click here to listen -- at 16.20 on audio file

CityNews Toronto (30 December 2008)
http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_30541.aspx

The Canadian Press (30 December 2008)
http://www.metronews.ca/vancouver/Canada/article/160787

Hong Kong Standard (29 December 2008)
click here to read article

The Windsor Star  (29 December 2008)
http://www.canada.com/windsorstar/news/story.html?id=0f8c2dc8-aca5-43a3-8a53-6c7968e650f6

The South China Morning Post (28 December 2008)
click here to read article

VIDEO : TVB News (28 December 2008)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3q6lxJPWIUk

top

The Canadian Press
http://www.google.com/hostednews/canadianpress/article/ALeqM5iBVWH97e4Z9b1LDjeJQ-lyNq8DTg

The South China Morning Post (25 December 2008)
click here to read article

The Toronto Star (23 December 2008)
http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/article/557794

CBC (22 December 2008)
http://www.cbc.ca/canada/toronto/story/2008/12/22/ani-ashekian.html

CTV (22 December 2008)

http://toronto.ctv.ca/servlet/an/local/CTVNews/20081222/woman_missing_081222/20081222?hub=TorontoNewHome

CityNews (22 December 2008)
http://www.citynews.ca/news/news_30345.aspx

The Montreal Gazette (20 December 2008)

http://www.montrealgazette.com/woman+feared+missing+China/1099994/story.html

The Vancouver Sun (20 December 2008)
http://www.vancouversun.com/woman+feared+missing+China/1099994/story.html

The Windsor Star (19 December 2008)
http://www.windsorstar.com/Windsor+woman+missing+China/1097553/story.html

i-report

http://www.ireport.com/docs/DOC-168442

Hong Kong Chinese Media

Sing Tao Daily 29 December

Oriental Daily 29 December

Hong Kong Economic Times 29 December

top

 

Search goes on for tourist who went missing a year ago

(SCMP, Hong Kong, 8 November 2009) Just after midnight on November 10 last year, a CCTV camera in Causeway Bay MTR station recorded the last known images of 31-year-old Canadian tourist Ani Ashekian. Ashekian withdraws money twice from an ATM, and what she did after that remains a mystery.

Police, local volunteers, private investigators, psychics and even a best-selling crime author have all tried to help. Officers have canvassed neighbourhoods, handed out leaflets, and posted appeals on television and in police publications.

About 150 police officers have been involved in the search and the case is still being actively investigated by at least 12 members of the Hong Kong Island crime unit, according to Chief Inspector Kevin Ku, the officer in charge of the team.

Police will not speculate about what happened to Ashekian, nor will they disclose their plans for future operations. What is known is that the 31-year-old arrived at Hong Kong's airport on November 9 last year, probably alone, Ku said. She was spotted at Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui a day later.

Sossy Ashekian, one of Ani's two sisters, would prefer it if the CCTV pictures were not published as they are the last images the family has of her. Still, 'if anybody sees them, if she looks familiar ... somebody knows something of her or her whereabouts that can come forward and speak up or say something', she said.

The case is not an easy one, police say. Records do not show Ashekian left the city. There has been no cellphone or bank account activity since her disappearance.

Guy Shirra, a retired Hong Kong police officer who investigated missing persons cases, is one of those trying to find answers. He has looked around the hills of Lantau, visited hostels and Buddhist temples, liaised with police, and talked to those involved in the initial volunteer search with the aim of drawing up a timeline from the time Ashekian left Canada.

'This is an extraordinary case,' he said. 'We don't know what happened to Ani. We have no idea.'

Another investigator said Ashekian could have left Hong Kong on a boat, latched onto someone with money, suffered a hiking accident or fallen in with the wrong crowd.
'It's tough in that all the signs basically lead to her having had an accident and her body not found - similar to the European hiker who disappeared on Lantau about five years ago,' the investigator said, referring to 55-year-old David Gilbert, a Briton who disappeared in 2002.

While the investigator is also not giving up on the case, he said that if Ashekian was alive 'she's not likely to be with a sugar daddy, and if she's still alive then it's possible that she's kept against her will'.

Psychics had also helped. They had seen Ashekian in different locations - in water, teaching an English class and inside a Wan Chai hotel room, the investigator said.

'It hasn't really led anywhere.' But 'when you run out of usable avenues you go elsewhere'.

Sossy Ashekian believes she will come home safe. 'And so does everybody else. I won't let that hope go.'

Ani's boyfriend, Wenddell Walsh, is also praying for her return.

'Ani is beautiful, strong, inspirational and a very unique girl. People like her are very rare. Her absence is a devastating tragedy,' he said. 'There isn't a day that passes that I don't think about her.'

Volunteers Preston Powell and a woman named Kinzie are also staying positive. 'People are still going to the website [findani.com] and the Facebook page as if they're still learning about it,' Powell said.

Kinzie said: 'I don't get the sense that she's no longer with us ... It's just a feeling I have. And for that reason I won't stop looking for Ani.'

Crime author Michael Connelly, who is based in Florida, heard about the story and offered help. Two days after the last sighting, Connelly was in Hong Kong 'researching a novel which would be about a young female's disappearance' from Chungking Mansions, he said in an e-mail.

He later learned about the case and placed an SCMP.com video about the woman's disappearance on his website, and added a posting.

'I was a reporter for a long time and I knew that the families involved in a disappearance of a loved one go through terrible dread and fear.'

Anyone with information about the case can call the police investigation unit at 2860 7834 or 9886 0043.

To learn more, visit http://tr.im/aniashekian for a SCMP.com series about Ashekian's disappearance.

Dan Kadison

top

Missing in Hong Kong

Tourists just don't disappear in this city. But Ani Ashekian has

(SCMP, Hong Kong, 4 January 2009) It was 4am on New Year's Eve, and three volunteers searching for Ani Ashekian rushed to Tsim Sha Tsui in the belief that a missing Canadian tourist had been spotted. Preston Powell, one of the local volunteer leaders, received an early morning lead from a Hong Kong caller. The tipster said he had encountered a woman at about 6pm the previous day near the intersection of Nathan Road and Humphreys Avenue. She was Canadian, strumming a guitar, and looking for some extra dollars to help buy a visa to the mainland.

He thought her name was Ani.

Hope swelled with the new lead. The number of volunteers grew throughout the morning.

By 11.30am, more than 20 people were canvassing not only Kowloon, but Hong Kong Island as well.

Forty-five minutes later, the woman was located in Tsim Sha Tsui. It wasn't Ms Ashekian. The woman's name was Elizabeth "Emily" Brule.

Like Ms Ashekian, Ms Brule was Canadian, a brunette, travelling solo, and blessed with a wide grin. But Ms Brule is a 23-year-old preschool instructor teaching in Shenzhen, and was in Hong Kong to renew her visa.

Ms Ashekian is a 30-year-old tourist, and she has gone missing in the city.

According to passport records, Ms Ashekian arrived in Hong Kong on November 9. Her family last heard from her a day later.

Loved ones have only two real clues to follow. She was seen at Chungking Mansions on November 10, and she visited an ATM inside the Causeway Bay MTR station.

"There is no information so far that she had ever stayed in the hostels or guest houses in Chungking Mansions," a police official said via e-mail. "She was seen in Chungking Mansions before withdrawing money in Causeway Bay."

The last place where Ms Ashekian was known to be was the ATM, where she twice withdrew money a little after midnight on November 11. The advances totalled HK$2,800 and were made minutes apart, loved ones told the Sunday Morning Post.

Closed-circuit television footage confirms it was Ms Ashekian withdrawing money. Police e-mailed several stills to the family last week.

In a couple of photos, Ms Ashekian was seen looking over her shoulder.

"She had her head turned," said Ms Ashekian's sister Sossy, 28. "Maybe she was just checking out the scenery or whatever. But she was turned and she was looking behind her."

Ms Ashekian was known to stay at hostels. Some speculate she may have been looking for a room at Chungking Mansions.

If Ms Ashekian decided to spend the night there, she might have been both thrilled and scared, said Ms Brule - who coincidentally was staying in the building when she was mistaken for Ms Ashekian.

Chungking Mansions is filled with blocks of cheap guest houses and hostels, and the location is very convenient for a traveller, Ms Brule said.

Unfortunately, males outnumber females there - and it took a while to adjust to the constant invitations and come-ons from men inside the building, she said.

"You really have to know whom to trust," said Ms Brule. "There are some people who are completely innocent. They just want to make friends, and they want to know your story, you want to know their story.

"And there are some people who have an underlying thing. They want you to come with them wherever they're going."

top

As with any unsolved mystery, people are left to guess what happened to Ms Ashekian: was someone lingering near the ATM? Was she harmed inside Chungking Mansions? Was she hurt during a hike? Did she fall in with the wrong crowd? Does she just need time alone?

The police aren't saying much.

"There is no record of Ani having left Hong Kong after she entered the territory on November 9. There is also no evidence or indication that she was injured," the police official said. "As the case is now under extensive inquiry by the regional crime unit of Hong Kong Island, it is not appropriate for us to disclose details of the police investigation at this juncture, including the photos of CCTV footage."

The case is puzzling. Tourists just don't disappear in Hong Kong.

The last publicised case of a missing tourist was in April 2002, and involved Michael Gilbert, a 55-year-old British man, who told friends he would walk from his Mui Wo hotel to Discovery Bay before visiting Hong Kong Island.

Like Ms Ashekian, Mr Gilbert was well travelled. Police told relatives he was last seen near the Trappist Monastery on Lantau Island.

"After an extensive search and investigation," Mr Gilbert hasn't been found, the police official said.

Police statistics show that 6,846 people were reported missing from last January to November. Of that number, 6,072 were found.

Last week's false lead didn't diminish hope for local volunteers. Meanwhile, back in Toronto, Ms Ashekian's family and boyfriend, Wenddell Walsh, are trying to stay optimistic.

"We still need everybody's help," Mr Walsh said. "She's still at large. She's still not brought back to safety."

Ms Ashekian, a paralegal who also had a real estate licence, planned to go home for the holidays and then move to Argentina this month.

Mr Walsh and Ms Ashekian were discussing whether he would relocate to South America with her. There was not time to further that personal discussion. Instead, Mr Walsh has been trying to co-ordinate efforts to find his girlfriend.

He searched for Ms Ashekian for five days in Hong Kong last month. While in the city, he handed out fliers, met police and consular officials, stopped at hostels and spoke to the media.

He heard many "credible leads".

One of them was from volunteer Luke Pierce, a 19-year-old living in Kennedy Town.

Around December 2, Mr Pierce said, he stopped to help a woman in Causeway Bay. She was asking for directions to Ikea. She said her hostel was nearby.

Mr Pierce walked the woman to the corner, and thought nothing of it - until, weeks later, he saw a Facebook group page devoted to Ms Ashekian's disappearance.

Mr Pierce quickly remembered the woman from Causeway Bay. He recalled her face and her jacket, and talked it over with Mr Walsh.

"I'm confident you met Ani," Mr Walsh told him.

Other leads place Ms Ashekian in the city after December 2, the Post has learned.

While Mr Walsh believes she will turn up safe, he knew something wasn't right during two days of silence after Ms Ashekian sent a text message to one of her sisters.

"I've had a lump in my throat since November 12," he said.

One of the traits Mr Walsh adores about his girlfriend is her passion for travel.

He and Ms Ashekian flew back from a Central American trip on October 19. Upon her return, a pair of friends, female prosecutors, asked her to go with them to Beijing.

Ms Ashekian, who sought to visit 30 countries before her 31st birthday, took them up on their offer, and flew to China with the women on October 25.

Ms Ashekian planned to stay in Asia longer than her friends. She checked out of her hotel on October 30.

While it's unclear where she went next, her credit card statement indicates she withdrew 2,500 yuan (HK$2,850) on the mainland on November 8. The next day she was in Hong Kong. Soon, she was missing.

Her family hoped she would make her return flight to Toronto from New Delhi on December 15. Sadly, she didn't.

Last week, her relatives packed up her apartment and moved her belongings out. The lease was up.

Ms Ashekian is 1.63 metres tall and weighs 55kg. She is of South Asian appearance.

Loved ones, who are offering a HK$50,000 reward for information leading to the missing woman's whereabouts, say she is financially stable and doesn't have any troubles, including medical problems.

They describe her as a free spirit, smart, kind and responsible.

They say she's best friends with her two sisters. She's an avid hiker who loves to read, travel by herself and keep a journal.

Most of all, they say they care about her, miss her and want her home.

"It makes my heart weak to know that she needs help," said Sossy Ashekian. "Something's wrong. She needs help because we know that she's just not calling us."

Anyone with information can contact the Hong Kong Island regional crime unit at 2860 7834. Mr Walsh can be contacted at wenddell@hotmail.com.Mr Powell reached by calling 9534 9531.

Dan Kadison

top

Family steps up search for missing Canadian

(Toronto Star - 31 December 2008) The family and friends of Ani Ashekian – a Toronto resident who vanished in Hong Kong about a month ago – are ramping up their search and are asking for the public's help. The last time her family heard from Ashekian was when she texted her niece on Nov 10th to wish her a happy birthday.

"In some form or another during all of her travels she had always kept in touch with us," said sister Rosie Kampstra, reached at her home in Windsor today. "So when she didn't contact us for our other daughter's birthday two weeks later, we started to worry," she said.

Ashekian had traveled to Hong Kong by herself. The 30-year-old paralegal made a habit of traveling to various parts of the world alone, including to Europe for three months, her sister said. Recent trips include visits to Egypt and Costa Rica. Ashekian was scheduled to fly home from New Delhi on Dec. 15 after attending a yoga retreat.

Shortly after they lost contact with Ashekian, her family contacted Chinese and Canadian officials in Hong Kong, who checked her travel records and found she had not left the country, said Kampstra.

The police have been diligent but little has come of the investigation, said Kampstra

"The Hong Kong police are taking this case really seriously," said Kampstra, adding the police "have not really indicated what they think may have happened."

"They stress we need to get her home safe."

Right now volunteers are searching for her in Hong Kong, she said. The family is looking into hiring a private detective.

Last month Ashekian's boyfriend Wenddell Walsh traveled to Hong Kong to try and speed up the search.

He returned to Canada last night.

In a release sent out by the family before he left to fly home Walsh said: "Although I'm not taking Ani home to her family on the plane today, I have confidence that the Hong Kong Police are working hard on the case. It helps knowing we can continue our search efforts here even when we're back in Canada by working online with the team of local volunteers."

They have started a Facebook group entitled "Missing: Ani Ashekian" and are offering a reward for any information leading to Ashekian.

Anyone with information can write to FindAni@gmail.com.

Emily Mathieu

Canadian ends hunt for friend

(SCMP - Hong Kong, 31 December 2008) The boyfriend of Ani Ashekian finished his five-day search for her yesterday - but still believes "it's just a matter of time" before the missing Canadian tourist is located.

"I feel really confident, with what the police are doing and with the amount of volunteers that are out there every day, that she will be found," said Wenddell Walsh before flying home to Toronto. "It's just a matter of time."

Ms Ashekian, 30, travelled to Asia in October and never made her December flight back to Canada. She last texted a relative on November 10 from Hong Kong.

"She can't be here and not be contacting family - unless there's something seriously wrong," Mr Walsh said. "I much prefer to stay until she's found. It's just not feasible for me."

Mr Walsh canvassed the city with many volunteers, met police and consular officials and even viewed CCTV tapes.

He declared his brief stay "a tremendous success" because of the "many credible leads".

"I'm just leaving those up to the police so we don't get in the way," Mr Walsh said. "The police have found some great information that gave me hope.

"And the people, as they were passing out fliers, collected some valuable information, as well."

The fliers, which were distributed by Mr Walsh and volunteers, advertise a HK$50,000 reward for information leading to the discovery of Ms Ashekian's whereabouts.

When asked what he would like to say to Hongkongers before departing, Mr Walsh replied: "The search is not over. We need everybody's help now more than ever. Please help the volunteers and the police find her."

A police spokesman said via e-mail that "police believe that Ms Ashekian is still in Hong Kong as there is no record of her leaving".

Ms Ashekian is 163cm tall, weighs 55kg and is of South Asian appearance. Anyone with information is asked to call the police on 2860 7834.

Those interested in volunteering in Hong Kong can e-mail findani@gmail.com.

Dan Kadison

top

Search will go on in riddle of missing woman

(Hong Kong Standard, 30 December 2008) Volunteers have vowed to carry on the search for missing Canadian woman Ani Ashekian when her boyfriend leaves the city today.

Wendell Walsh remains hopeful his girlfriend can be found after a two-hour meeting with detectives from the police missing persons unit yesterday.

"They told us what they could and we gave them all the leads we've got from witnesses who have come forward as we passed out fliers over the past several days," a spokeswoman for the volunteers said.

Canadian Walsh, who came to the city earlier this week, has brought together a core group of 15 volunteers and others to distribute fliers.

Walsh spent last night with police scouring CCTV footage in locations across the city where Ashekian was reportedly seen. He is scheduled to fly back to Toronto today.

Volunteers carrying on the search will be headed by American Preston Powell, who met Walsh on Facebook and has been hosting him since he arrived in the city.

"In leaving, I feel confident with the dedication and competence of the volunteers we have assembled here," Walsh said.

"That's what gives me the strength to think we can find her."

The widespread flier and internet campaigns to raise awareness about Ashekian's case have already helped confirm that she was in Chungking Mansions on November 10 and raised the possibility that she stayed in a Causeway Bay guesthouse near Ikea on December 1 or 2.

A HK$50,000 reward for information is being offered. PAUL MOZUR

Paul Mozur

Facebook group joins police in hunt for missing woman

(Hong Kong Standard, 29 December 2008) Facebook friends are joining police to find a Canadian woman who went missing last month.

A representative of a group of about 20 volunteers who have come together to help search for 30-year-old Ani Ashekian said there is cause for hope.

Led by Ashekian's boyfriend, Wendell Walsh, the volunteers - who came together through a Facebook group set up to help find the woman - assembled at Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui yesterday where she was last reported seen on November 10.

During the day, several people came forward and confirmed having seen Ashekian there last month.

A spokeswoman for the group said it was encouraging that people had volunteered information.

Ashekian, from Toronto, sent a text message wishing her niece a happy birthday on November 10. On the same day a cash advance of HK$3,000 was taken out of her credit card account from a Hang Seng automatic teller machine in Causeway Bay.

The only immigration information known is that she entered Hong Kong on November 9.

Ashekian is 1.63 meters tall, weighs 55 kilograms and has a South Asian appearance with wavy hair.

Boyfriend Walsh, 30, said he knew no one when he arrived in the city, but in the past few days has received overwhelming support from volunteers and police alike.

"What gives me hope is the efforts and enthusiasm of the volunteers and the professionalism of the police," he said. "Momentum has been growing and people have been printing fliers from the Facebook site to hang across the city."

The flier offers a HK$50,000 reward for information that reveals her whereabouts.

Ashekian was an experienced traveler who had visited more than 30 countries. Walsh said this was her first trip to Asia and that she knew no one in the city.

Although a spontaneous traveler, she often kept in close contact with relatives during her jaunts abroad. She flew to Beijing on October 25 with two friends before leaving for Hong Kong on November 9.

Her plan was to travel from the city to India to participate in a yoga retreat and return home on December 15.

Police said they believe Ashekian is still in Hong Kong and they are working closely with her family and Canadian authorities.

Anyone with information should email FindAni@gmail.com or call 9534-9531.

Paul Mozur

top

Boyfriend of missing tourist begins search with help from local people

(SCMP Hong Kong, 28 December 2008) The boyfriend of a missing Canadian tourist has flown to Hong Kong to search for her, and praised local people for helping him.

Wenddell Walsh yesterday scoured the Causeway Bay area for news of Ani Ashekian, the 30-year-old Toronto woman who travelled to Asia in late October but did not return home this month as planned.

Ms Ashekian sent a text message to a relative from Hong Kong on November 10, the same day HK$3,000 was withdrawn from her Visa account at an ATM at Causeway Bay MTR station. Immigration information indicated she arrived on November 9 but had not left, her family said.

Mr Walsh, 30, said: "I flew over not knowing what to expect and, since I've acquired this support group of strangers that are helping me, I have a lot of hope."

Around 15 people - who do not know Ms Ashekian but learned of her story through the media and a Facebook page - joined Mr Walsh in handing out fliers. The flier offers a reward of HK$50,000 for information revealing her whereabouts.

Today at noon, Mr Walsh and some volunteers will gather outside Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui, where police said Ms Ashekian was last seen.

Ms Ashekian is 163cm tall, weighs 55kg and is of South Asian appearance. Police are investigating the case. Anyone with information can contact the Hong Kong Island regional crime unit on 2860 7834.

Anyone with information should email FindAni@gmail.com or call 9534-9531.

Dan Kadison

Police fear for the safety of a Canadian tourist who vanished in Hong Kong last month.

(SCMP - Hong Kong, 25 December 2008) Ani Ashekian, 30, has not been heard from since she sent a text message to her sister on November 10, a day after she arrived in the city.

Her bank accounts have been untouched since two cash advances, one for HK$2,000 and another for HK$800, were made on her Visa card from ATMs at Causeway Bay MTR station on November 10.

A police statement yesterday said she was last seen at Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui. She was wearing a white top and carrying a rucksack.

Miss Ashekian, who had been planning to travel to India before returning to Toronto on December 15, never left Hong Kong, according to passport information obtained by her family in Canada.

She has no close friends or family in the city and her relatives in Canada became worried after not hearing from her for weeks.

"She was looking to find herself," said her older sister, Rosie Kampstra. "She wanted to tour the world."

Miss Ashekian, described as 163cm tall, 55kg and of South Asian appearance, left Toronto Pearson International Airport with two acquaintances from her legal firm on an overnight flight to Beijing on October 24.

She checked out of the Beijing YWCA on October 30 without discussing her plans with her travel companions, something her sister said was not out of the ordinary.

"She's very spontaneous," Ms Kampstra said. "When she gets something in her mind, that's what she is going to do. She wasn't good friends with the people she went to Beijing with.

"Honestly, she probably didn't know herself where she was going at that point."

All that is known about her movements after that is that she passed through Hong Kong immigration on November 9.

Nick Gentle and Dan Kadison

top

Help From Anywhere You Are

Online Videos

  • Watch the 6 minute video and pass it on to a friend.

  • Click on the video, rate it and mark it as a Favorite to will draw attention

YouTube-Hong Kong
http://hk.youtube.com/watch?v=jD1jXH0GKyg

Google Video
http://video.google.com/videoplay?docid=345116040184675121&ei=Jl5OSck1g_r5AcidkL0K&q=ani+ashekian&hl=en

Yahoo Video
http://ca.video.yahoo.com/watch/4157165/11194499

Hang Posters
Download, share, print and distribute MISSING poster
http://www.4shared.com/file/77407842/1caf3add/Ani-missing_poster_for_print.html

Donate
A trust fund has been set up to help the Ashekian Family pay for the cost of a private investigator in Hong Kong.
To donate, visit any TD Canada Trust location and make a deposit to the fund : SOSSY ASHEKIAN - IN TRUST

top

News Releases

30 January 2009

13 January 2009

1 January 2009

31 December 2008

30 December 2008

29 December 2008

28 December 2008

27 December 2008

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contacts

Kinzie T +852 6628 6153 in Hong Kong
Rosie Kampstra T +1 519 999 8041 in Canada
E Media@FindAni.com

REWARD DOUBLED TO HK$200,000/CAD$31,660 IN CASE OF CANADIAN TOURIST MISSING IN HK

(Hong Kong, 30 January 2009) With no new leads in the disappearance of Ani Ashekian, a Canadian tourist who disappeared shortly after her arrival in Hong Kong on 9 November 2008, an anonymous donor in Hong Kong has contacted the family and doubled the reward money to HKD$200,000 (CAD$31,660) for any information leading to her whereabouts.

Details and photographs are available on www.FindAni.com.

Authorities on the case have appealed for public assistance. Ashekian flew from Toronto to Beijing on Friday, October 24, 2008 and was scheduled return via India on December 15 but she has not been seen or heard from since November 11.

Ashekian's passport indicates that she entered Hong Kong on November 9 and that she has not left Hong Kong. Ashekian was last seen in Chungking Mansions in Tsim Sha Tsui on the morning of November 10. Hong Kong Police confirmed via CCTV footage that a cash withdrawal (HK$3000/CAD$470) was made by Ashekian just after midnight later that day in the Causeway Bay MTR station. Records show no further transactions on her bank accounts since that date.

On 10 November, Ashekian called her sister and sent a text with a birthday message for her niece. Family and friends who heard from her regularly until then have had no contact since. The Foreign Affairs Department was contacted and Canadian authorities made a report to the Hong Kong Police on December 9, who made a public appeal for assistance.

Unconfirmed reports place Ashekian throughout the territory, including Chung King Mansion, Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Lan Kwai Fong, Black’s Link, Po Lin Monastery, Tung Chung, Prince Edward, Yuen Long and the New Territories. Hong Kong police on the case continue to work closely with volunteers, following up leads sent by telephone, email and on the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” which has 12,945 members.

Ani Ashekian grew up in Windsor, Ontario and was living in Toronto where she worked as a freelance paralegal. Ashekian traveled frequently and she had a history of maintaining regular contact her family while on her trips.

Ashekian is 31, 1.6 metres (5’ 4”) tall, of normal build and weighs about 54kg (120lbs) with light complexion and brown hair. She was last seen wearing a white shirt and carrying a backpack.

Anyone who may have seen her is urged to contact the Hong Kong Island Regional Crime Unit at +852 2860 7834 or any police station. Tips may also be sent by voice or text message to +1 519 999 8041 in Canada or +852 9534 9531 in Hong Kong or by email to FindAni@gmail.com.

-- end --
 

top

 

(Toronto, 13 January 2009) As the search continues for Ani Ashekian, the Canadian tourist who disappeared shortly after her arrival in Hong Kong on 9 November 2008, an anonymous donor in Canada has contacted the family with an offer to increase the reward money. His email message simply stated, “I have been following the story about Ani and would like to help. The story in the paper today said you have an $8,000.00 (HK$50,000) reward. I would like to increase that reward $3,000.00 (HK$19,000) to $11,000.00 (HK$70,000) in the hopes it will help. Please contact me.”

Today, the Ashekian family increased the reward to HK$100,000 (CAD$15,750) for any information that leads to the whereabouts of their missing daughter. “We love her and we miss her and we’re worried sick -- we need to know she’s safe,” said Rosie Kampstra, Ani’s older sister at a news conference in Toronto today.

“It’s frustrating not knowing where she is (or) if she’s safe,” said younger sister, Sossy Ashekian, 28, who returned from Hong Kong on Saturday.

No new details have been released since Hong Kong Regional Police confirmed via CCTV footage that Ani was not under duress when she withdrew money at an ATM machine in the Causeway Bay MTR Station at 12:05am on 11 November 2008.

Unconfirmed reports place Ani throughout the territory, including Chung King Mansion, Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Lan Kwai Fong, Black’s Link, Po Lin Monastery, Tung Chung, Prince Edward and the New Territories. The police continue to work closely with the team of local volunteers, actively following up leads received by telephone, email, people approaching volunteers on street and on the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian.”

Local Hong Kong volunteers are planning a major campaign this Sunday 18 January in Victoria Park and the surrounding Causeway Bay area where Ani was last seen. Volunteers are needed to hand out flyers and put up posters, available in English/Chinese on the Facebook group which has 11,437 members actively coordinating volunteer efforts, sharing contacts and discussing what can be done. Volunteers who cannot join on the street are asked to print and distribute posters in neighbourhoods where they work and live.

Ani Ashekian grew up in Windsor, Ontario and was living in Toronto where she worked as a freelance paralegal. On October 25, 2008 she joined 2 colleagues on their first trip to Asia, flying Air Canada from Toronto’s Pearson International Airport to Beijing. The 2 friends continued their tour to Cambodia while Ani made her way to Hong Kong with plans to research a yoga retreat in India. She arrived in Hong Kong on 9 November, placing a phone call and sending text message to her family on the morning of 11 November. This was the last contact with her family. When she did not return to Canada as scheduled on 15 December, her family contacted local authorities. Ashekian was well-traveled and she had a history of maintaining regular contact her family while on her trips.

A HK$100,000 reward is offered for any information leading to Ani’s whereabouts. Call +1 519 999 8041 in Canada, +852 9534 9531 in Hong Kong or email FindAni@gmail.com with any information you may have.

-- end --

 

top

(Hong Kong, 1 January 2009) Hong Kong Regional Police have confirmed that the Canadian female seen in the TST area on Monday is not Ani Ashekian, the Canadian Tourist missing in Hong Kong since 8 November 2008. The Detective in charge of the case followed up on the lead provided by volunteers and reported yesterday that the young woman is a Canadian student now studying in China. There are no new details available on the case.

Wenddell Walsh, Ani’s boyfriend who was in Hong Kong this week to help their search, has returned to Canada and continues his appeal to the public for any information that may help with the case. “I had 5 phone interviews today and camera crews from CBC showed up at my door this afternoon wanting more information. The news media can help spread the word in ways we cannot. I’ve been on the phone around the clock with the volunteers in Hong Kong -- they are still looking there and I will continue to do all that I can from here. We just want to know that she’s safe.”

Volunteers will focus their search efforts today on the area surrounding Chung King Mansion, handing out flyers, putting up posters and asking local shop owners and people who live and work in the area. English/Chinese language posters are available for volunteers on the Facebook group – Missing: Ani Asheikan for to anyone to download, print and distribute in their neighbourhoods, even if they cannot join the volunteers on the street.

The police will continue to actively follow up all leads gathered by the volunteers who receive tips on the street, on the Facebook Group, by telephone and email.

A HK$50,000 reward is offered for any information leading to Ani’s whereabouts. Call Preston Powell on +852 9534 9531 in Hong Kong or email FindAni@gmail.com with any information you may have or if you can volunteer to help in any way.

At time of writing, the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” has 7,796 members from around the world actively coordinating volunteer efforts, sharing contacts and discussing what can be done.

-- end --

top

(Hong Kong, 31 December 2008) A new lead suggests that Ani Ashekian, a Canadian Tourist missing in Hong Kong since 8 November 2008 was seen in the TST area within the past 24 hours. Volunteers have passed the details to the Hong Kong Regional Police who are following up on the lead. No further details can be released at this time.

Volunteers arrived at Chung King Mansion at 3:30am and are combing the area for more information. Volunteers will now focus their efforts on the area surrounding Chung King Mansion, handing out flyers, putting up posters and asking local shop owners and people who live and work in the area. The police are actively following up all leads gathered by the volunteers in their search efforts.

Wenddell Walsh, Ani’s boyfriend, was in Hong Kong this week appealing to the public to help their search for any information that may help with the case. Walsh returned to Canada yesterday and Preston Powell is now heading up the volunteer search efforts.

“We are now certain she is in the area, and we need your help to find her, especially since the streets will be filled with people out tonight celebrating New Year’s Eve” said Powell. “This lead came in through our Facebook network so our efforts are definitely paying off.”

A HK$50,000 reward is offered for any information leading to her whereabouts. Call Preston Powell on +852 9534 9531 in Hong Kong or email FindAni@gmail.com with any information you may have or if you can volunteer to help in any way.

At time of writing, the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” has 7,437 members from around the world actively coordinating volunteer efforts, sharing contacts and discussing what can be done.

Local volunteers will continue their efforts distributing posters in Hong Kong and asking local shopkeepers if they have seen Ani. Local residents are encouraged to download and print posters to post in their neighbourhood. Chinese language versions are available.

-- end --

top

(Hong Kong, 30 December 2008) Wenddell Walsh, boyfriend of missing Canadian tourist, Ani Ashekian, left Hong Kong returned to Canada today on Air Canada flight 016 scheduled for arrival at 6:05pm Tuesday local time in Toronto's Pearson International Airport.

"Although I’m not taking Ani home to her family on the plane today, I have confidence that the Hong Kong Police are working hard on the case. It helps knowing we can continue our search efforts here even when we’re back in Canada by working online with the team of local volunteers, said an emotional Walsh. "This is my first trip to Hong Kong and I am overwhelmed with the support I have been getting from the local people,” “This is an amazing city and I wish my first visit could have been under different circumstances."

In a 2 hour meeting at Regional Police Regional Headquarters yesterday, Walsh supplied local detectives with background information and shared new leads that came in from people calling the number on the poster over the weekend. Later in the day, the police invited Walsh to come back to the station and view CCTV tapes from the ATM machine in Causeway Bay where Ani’s latest bank transactions took place.

“We put up posters and handed out more than 5,000 flyers Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Lan Kwai Fong, Soho, Chung King Mansion and Central, said Walsh “The police here are very efficient and I now have lots of help from people in Hong Kong I didn’t even know before I arrived here a few days ago. I am sure she’s here and I just want to know that she’s safe.”

Walsh also met with senior officials at the Canadian Consulate who reassured him that they are doing everything possible to help the family.

It is strongly believed that Ani is still in Hong Kong as many of the leads indicated that she been seen here. Walsh is appealing to the public to help their search for any information that may help with the case. A HK$50,000 reward is offered for any information leading to her whereabouts.

Call Preston Powell on +852 9534 9531 in Hong Kong or Wenddell Walsh in Canada on +1 514 823 3321 or email FindAni@gmail.com with any information you may have or if you can volunteer to help in any way.

As of today, the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” had 7,167 members from around the world actively coordinating volunteer efforts, sharing contacts and discussing what can be done. This is up from 5,665 on Sunday.

Local volunteers will continue their efforts distributing posters in Hong Kong and asking local shopkeepers if they have seen Ani. Local residents are encouraged to download and print posters to post in their neighbourhood. Chinese language versions are available.

-- end --

top

(Hong Kong, 29 December 2008 ) Wenddell Walsh continues the search for Ani Ashekian after several reports yesterday she was seen near Chung King Mansions where volunteers were handing out flyers and putting up posters.
Today is the third day volunteers have come out to support Walsh in his efforts to find information about Ani. “I just want to know that she’s safe,” says Walsh. “We’ve been in Causeway Bay, Wanchai, Lan Kwai Fong, Soho and the area around Chung King Mansion. The police are cooperating and I am getting lots of support from people in Hong Kong I didn’t know before I arrived here on Friday night. I am hopeful.”
The first lead came in from someone who saw the appeal on Facebook and posted a note on the group’s discussion board on Christmas Day. Mr Walsh, Ashekian’s boyfriend, arrived in Hong Kong from Canada on Friday to lead the search.
Walsh is appealing to the Hong Kong public to help their search for any information that may help with the case. The Hong Kong Police have been notified and Walsh will be meeting the relevant detective in Missing Persons bureau on Monday morning. A HK$50,000 reward is offered for any information leading to her whereabouts. Call Preston Powell on +852 9534 9531 or email FindAni@gmail.com.
As of last night, the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” had 6,086 members actively sharing contacts and discussing what can be done. That is an increase from 5,665 members on Sunday. The YouTube video has been viewed 4,679 times and people are encouraged to mark the video a favourite to help generate awareness.
Local volunteers will continue their efforts to distribute posters around all the MTR stations in Hong Kong and ask local shopkeepers if they have seen Ms Ashekian. Local residents are encouraged to download and print posters to post in their neighbourhood. Chinese language versions are available.

-- end --

top

(Hong Kong, 28 December 2008) Wenddell Walsh announced today that Ani Ashekian was seen in Causeway Bay around December 2, 2008. The lead came in from someone who saw the appeal on Facebook and posted a note on the group’s discussion board on Christmas Day. Mr Walsh, Ashekian’s boyfriend, arrived in Hong Kong from Canada on Friday to lead the search.

Walsh is appealing to the Hong Kong public to help their search for any information that may help with the case. The Hong Kong Police have been notified and Walsh will be meeting the relevant detective in Missing Persons bureau on Monday morning. A HK$50,000 reward is offered for any information leading to her whereabouts. Call Preston Powell on +852 9534 9531 or email FindAni@gmail.com.

As of last night, the Facebook group, “Missing: Ani Ashekian” had 5,665 members actively sharing contacts and discussing what can be done. The YouTube video has been viewed 4,063 times and people are encouraged to mark the video a favourite to help generate awareness.

Local volunteers will continue their efforts to distribute posters around all the MTR stations in Hong Kong and ask local shopkeepers if they have seen Ms Ashekian. Local residents are encouraged to download and print posters to post in their neighbourhood. Chinese language versions are available.

-- end --

top

(Hong Kong, 27 December 2008 ) Friends of Ani Ashekian will host a news conference to provide the latest update and make a public appeal for help in their volunteer search efforts to find information on the whereabouts of the 30-year-old missing Canadian tourist last seen in Hong Kong on November 8, 2008.

DATE : Sunday 28 December 2008
TIME : 12pm
PLACE : Chung King Mansion (36-44 Nathan Road, TST, Kowloon, Hong Kong)
CONTACT : Kinzie +852 6618 6153

Wenddell Walsh, Ani’s boyfriend, will make a public appeal and is available for interviews immediately following his brief statement. Mr Walsh arrived in Hong Kong from Canada last night.

-- end --

NOTE : Photograph/video available upon request

NAME : Ani Ashekian
AGE : 30
HEIGHT : 5'4" - 163 cm
WEIGHT : 120 pounds - 55 kg. Athletic build
HAIR: Brown - Long - May be curly or straight
EYES: Brown
INTERESTS : yoga, local culture, exploring
CONTACTS : no friends or family in Hong Kong

FACEBOOK
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54077259736#/photo.php?pid=5182972&op=1&o=all&view=all&subj=54077259736&aid=-1&oid=54077259736&id=589530787

She was traveling with a black and blue backpack. Last seen in a white T-shirt.
 

Contacts

  • Tel/SMS +852 9886 0043 (24 hour police hotline for this case)

  • Tel/SMS +852 6628 6153 in Hong Kong (volunteer support)

  • Tel/SMS +1 519 999 8041 in Canada (volunteer support)

  • FindAni@gmail.com

 

FACEBOOK - group http://tinyurl.com/yz3n869 page http://tinyurl.com/ykk53ns
http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=54077259736#/photo.php?pid=5182972&op=1&o=all&view=all&subj=54077259736&aid=-1&oid=54077259736&id=589530787