Less than 48 hours after police took the unusual step of offering a reward for information leading to the arrest of a suspect identified in the homicide of a gas station attendant three years ago, an arrest has been made.
Max Edwin Tutiven, 42, who was on the run since September 2012 after allegedly running over Jayesh Prajapati, 44, at a Shell gas station at the corner of Marlee and Roselawn Aves., was arrested around 9.30 am. this morning by Montreal Police.
Homicide Detective Sergeant Stacy Galant said a tip from a Montreal resident led to the arrest.
“The accused was arrested without incident at a residence,” said Gallant. “He identified himself to authorities and was taken into custody. It was as a result of the media conference we had encouraging members to come forward and assist in the investigation that an arrest was made.”
Gallant said Tutiven will be brought to Toronto to face a second-degree murder and other outstanding charges.
“We are going to get him and he will be back here by tomorrow night,” Gallant added.
Prajapati, a husband and father, was killed while trying to stop a man attempting to drive away without paying his $112 bill after filling up his Isuzu Rodeo SUV and a gas can.
At a news conference at police headquarters on September 15, Detective Sergeant Stacy Gallant explained why Chief Mark Saunders has authorized a reward of up to $25,000 for information leading to Tutiven’s arrest.
“In this particular case, the murder has been solved as we know who is responsible,” alleged Gallant at the Sept. 15 conference. “The offender has not been taken into custody yet. We have done extensive investigations trying to get Mr. Tutiven in custody and unfortunately we have been unsuccessful. This is not the typical reward we normally ask for to get people to court to testify in relation to evidence. This is simply to find this person, get him into custody and bring him before the court.”
Gallant hoped the reward would prompt someone to come forward with the information police need to capture Tutiven who also has outstanding warrants for his arrest in Toronto and Quebec.
“The information has to lead directly to the arrest of the individual,” he said. “We know there are a number of people out there who know where this person is. Anyone identified as assisting him in evading arrest will also be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.”
Gallant said it is a rare opportunity for someone to turn one phone call to police into $25,000.
Homicide investigators had believed the accused is still in Canada, possibly in Western Canada or more likely in Montreal or Quebec. He also has family ties to Ecuador.
Tutiven’s family turned down investigators request to attend the press conference to encourage him to surrender. They, however, conveyed a message to him through his brother that Gallant read.
“Max, your mother is very, very sick and she wants to be able to see you before it’s too late,” the message read. “Turn yourself in so you could be in contact with your mother and see her. She is upset and crying about this every day. Your family wants this to end.”
The holder of a master’s degree in chemistry, Prajapati along with his wife Vaishali and son Rishabh migrated from India in 2006 in search of a better life. Unable to find a job in his field, he worked full-time at the gas station to provide for his family.
Still emotionally shaken by the tragedy, the widow says she needs justice.
“I miss my husband and my son also misses him and I need justice,” she said with tears streaming down her face. “Anybody who knows where he is, please help us…This is affecting my son’s studies. Two years ago, he did counselling and, after that, he was a little bit OK. He misses his dad every day.”
Gallant urged social media users to share the information about the reward using #TurnMaxIn.
Gallant said homicide investigators are renewing efforts to locate outstanding suspects with arrest warrants for homicides.
“These are solved cases where the offender has been able to avoid arrest for far too long,” he said. “We will be seeking the assistance of the community to help us in locating these individuals who are wanted for serious crimes in relation to homicides in the City of Toronto.”