Second paragraph reads: "Mohamad Kajouji, who met with Ottawa police investigators on Tuesday, said he had also learned that his 18-year-old daughter, who was taking anti-depressants, had mentioned the possibility of harming herself in the weeks leading up to her disappearance."
Missing student talked about harming herself, anguished father says
Neco Cockburn, with files from Andrew Seymour, The Ottawa CitizenPublished: Thursday, March 27, 2008
Nadia Kajouji had an online conversation with someone who tried to "discourage her from doing anything stupid or silly because she had a wonderful life ahead of her" the day she disappeared from her Carleton University dorm room, her father said yesterday.
Mohamad Kajouji, who met with Ottawa police investigators on Tuesday, said he had also learned that his 18-year-old daughter, who was taking anti-depressants, had mentioned the possibility of harming herself in the weeks leading up to her disappearance.
Mr. Kajouji said the online conversation happened after his daughter became upset when arrangements to move into an apartment with a friend fell through.
"I'm hoping, I'm praying to God, that somehow she listened to whoever it was," he said.
Although Mr. Kajouji has held to his belief that his daughter would not be capable of hurting herself, he said yesterday that suicide appeared to be a possibility, based on the new information.
"Not if she's sober. The only way she could do it was if she took her medication," he said, adding he still believes his daughter may have run away, fallen in the snow and passed out or been a victim of foul play.
Mr. Kajouji said details that have emerged since his daughter was last seen have surprised and saddened him. Ms. Kajouji, last seen by her roommates at about 11:30 p.m. on March 9, had been struggling in school and had missed classes.
"The behaviour, the counselling, the doctors, depression medication. That was nothing like my daughter," Mr. Kajouji said. "The girl needed help and her life was going downhill."
Mr. Kajouji said he was disappointed that nobody alerted him to his daughter's behaviour before she disappeared, although he admitted he had overlooked changes in her character.
"If somebody knew these little things that were happening in her life, why couldn't they say, 'Listen, your daughter is having difficulty, maybe you should sit down and talk with her or get her some help'," he said.
"I didn't know she almost gave up. If I knew during her reading week (when Ms. Kajouji was at home in Brampton), there's no way I would let her go back.
"I'm the guiltiest person on this Earth because how could I not see what was happening to my daughter?"
Mr. Kajouji met with police Chief Vern White and discussed the case with investigators on Tuesday after members of his family criticized the force's handling of it.
Family members questioned the length of time it took before a ground search was launched and Ms. Kajouji's computer was seized. Mr. Kajouji had said it was frustrating that it took three days for his daughter to be reported missing, which cost police what he described as "critical" days early in the investigation.
Mr. Kajouji said he told Chief White of the concerns during their meeting.
"I told him how frustrating it was and I didn't blame it on the officers," he said. "He was very understanding."
Chief White said he did not discuss specifics of the case with Mr. Kajouji during the meeting, which he described as "two parents talking."
"It was probably the most personal discussion I have had in 26 years of policing," said Chief White, who has an 18-year-old daughter. "It was more than anything letting him know that we care," he said.
Police continued to analyse Ms. Kajouji's computer yesterday. Mr. Kajouji said further volunteer searches were planned for the university campus and surrounding area.