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By Thulasi Srikanthan

The former Ryerson student found dead last Friday may have been involved in drug dealing, police have told the Toronto Sun.

The body of Alexander Christoff, 27, was left near a residential area in Etobicoke. He suffered from multiple stab wounds. Christoff was a drug dealer and had been charged–but never convicted — in connection with a marijuana grow-op, Det. Brian Raybould told Sun reporters.

Now, Toronto cops are questioning the man’s former clients for more information on the killing. But while homicide investigators continue trying to delve into Christoff’s gritty past, the Ryerson community mourns the loss of a charming young man.

Sydney Stagg tries not to cry when she talks about the murder of the young man. She gazes to the ground and purses her lips tightly. Stagg, an administrative assistant in the Faculty of Arts, met the “young, vivacious and handsome man” when he enroled in the Diploma in Arts program five years ago.

Friends remember him as the popular smooth talker. Stagg simply remembers him as the quiet boy who loved soccer. “He was very clean-cut and nice,” she said of Christoff, who often called or came to her office to talk. Even when he left Ryerson last May, Christoff kept in frequent contact with Stagg.

Last summer, they shared their final conversation and discussed Christoff’s future. “He was planning to return (to Ryerson) this fall,” Stagg said. Just months later, Stagg would read in disbelief about the young man’s death in the papers.

“I just thought, ‘Please, don’t let it be him,’ ” she said.

On March 11, police received a medical call that a motionless male body was found near a townhouse complex on Mendota Road in Etobicoke. Police and paramedics rushed to the scene, but were unable to find any vital signs.

Lead investigator Det.-Sgt. Mark Saunders said the homicide squad is still trying to find out what Christoff was doing in an area they described as unfamiliar to him, and have not ruled out the possibility he was dumped. Const. Kristine Bacharach said the squad is trying to establish the timeline between Christoff’s March 9 disappearance and when his body was found at 1 p.m. two days later.

Christoff was the city’s 13th homicide of 2005. His body was found exactly two years after a man was shot to death on Ryerson’s campus.

– with files from Robyn Doolittle

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