To nearly all who knew them, their lives were the perfect picture of medical professionals on the rise. He was 40 years old and a respected Canadian neurosurgeon. She was a beloved family medicine specialist and in the early stages of political advocacy. They had a stunning home in the Toronto suburb of North York, 3 young children, and a social network chock-full of fun photos together. They documented their exotic vacations as well as their marathon running competitions.
But now, the poor children are in the care of relatives; the estate is about to be sold; Doctor Elana Fric Shamji is dead of “strangulation and blunt-force trauma,” and her husband, Doctor Mohammed Shamji, sits in jail, believed by police to be the murderer of his wife.
Doctor Mohammed Shamji and Doctor Elana Shamji
Doctor Elana Fric Shamji’s body, you see, was found stuffed into a large suitcase on the side of a road north of the city last December 1. Toronto police are certain he killed her, and Toronto’s medical community is in a serious state of shock.
Doctor Larry Erlick, the head of family medicine at The Scarborough Hospital where Doctor Flana Shamji worked, and the former director of the Ontario Medical Association, told reporters that he knew – in spite of her happy personality – there was serious trouble in her private life. And he was aware that she had just filed for divorce.
“She confided a lot in me,” he said, adding that he has spoken to police. “I don’t want to say a lot. There were issues … No one ever expects anything like this.”
He said the Ontario Medical Association is raising money for her children and to honor her legacy in a meaningful way. Physicians who knew her have had a series of meetings, to determine what their next steps should be.
Doctor Erlick described Elana – who was also 40 years old at the time of her death – as an emerging “physician leader” who had recently joined the policy committee of the medical association, which is involved with leveraging health-care reforms.
In the meantime, with some of his family members witnessing the sobering reality of a homicide trial, Doctor Mohammed Shamji made his first appearance at the Old City Hall Courtroom on December 4 in handcuffs. Police say he was found at a small café in Mississauga not long after his wife’s body was discovered. He was immediately charged with First Degree Murder.
“Imagine the nicest person in your workplace, and then, say, that person has been accused of killing their spouse,” one of his coworkers said. “He is nice to his assistants, he is nice to the residents he has with him, he is nice to nurse practitioners.”