The disappearance of a high-end Toronto real estate agent took a decidedly darker turn as police confirmed the case as an abduction and named a suspect with a notorious past.
On Thursday, exactly three weeks after Jianguo (Tony) Han, 44, and a client named Jun (Johnny) Fei, 40, were reported missing from Mr. Fei's Mississauga mansion, police in Peel Region confirmed the men had been kidnapped, and revealed that Mr. Fei had turned up safe and sound on Jan. 26.
Mr. Han remained missing, and an arrest warrant has been issued for Guo Wei Wu, 43, of no fixed address. Mr. Wu was named in local media reports in 2002, 2003 and 2006 in connection with dozens of incidents in York Region, north of Toronto, including burglaries, a stabbing, assaults, automobile thefts and a vehicular confrontation with SWAT team officers who tried - and failed - to arrest him.
Mr. Wu, who has used the first name David, is described as Asian, 5 foot 7, and weighs 170 pounds with black hair and brown eyes.
Police only reluctantly confirmed the safe return of Mr. Fei, who turned up in the city's Don Mills area just six days after the abduction from a spacious luxury home registered to his numbered company on Mississauga's Featherston Drive.
"We're still not convinced the release of this information is going to help Mr. Han," Constable Adam Minnion said, adding that police were pressed into confirming Mr. Fei's return by media who had obtained the information independently.
Referring to detectives investigating the case, Constable Minnion said, "they're very, very sensitive to what information can be released and what can't," out of concern for Mr. Han's well-being.
Mr. Han had been trying to sell Mr. Fei's house, listed at $2.4-million, since the latter part of last year. The home is typical of the agent's luxurious listings, which include a $30-million property in Toronto's ultra-exclusive Bridle Path enclave.
Mr. Han had only recently sold his own home in North York for $1-million and upgraded to a larger one for $2.5-million, not far from the Bridle Path, a far cry from the humble Canadian beginnings described on his personal website. As an immigrant from mainland China, he worked as a landscaper before his rise through the real-estate ranks.
The brokerage where Mr. Han works, HomeLife Landmark in Don Mills, caters specifically to new Canadians and boasts a multicultural roster of agents fluent in two or more languages. The company's office is less than a kilometre from the Tim Hortons outlet where Mr. Han left his black Mercedes on the afternoon of Jan. 19, about 24 hours before he disappeared.
A Tim Hortons manager told The Globe and Mail at the time that Mr. Han parked his car, bought something and then got into the passenger seat of a second car, which drove off.
In October of 2002, Mr. Wu was named in local media reports as a "wanted man" whom York Region police were trying to apprehend when he rammed a police cruiser with a minivan packed with stolen goods and sped away, narrowly missing the police tactical unit's van.
The Toronto Sun reported that Mr. Wu "had been on the run since August when he allegedly cut telephone lines before breaking into his ex-wife's home and stabbing a man."
After he made his escape from the cruiser collision, officers found the minivan abandoned in a parking lot, where a second van was stolen. Police advised the public not to approach the vehicle or Mr. Wu, who was believed to be armed.
In 2006, the Toronto Star reported that Mr. Wu and a pregnant woman named Xue Fei (Michelle) Zhao had been charged with 65 counts of breaking and entering, plus counts of possession of stolen property and assaulting a police officer. York Region police alleged that the couple treated burglary as "a job" in which they took $500,000 in goods during nighttime break-ins at 65 companies north of Toronto.