Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette case: What we know
Derek Saretzky charged in deaths of Terry Blanchette and his 2-year-old daughter
Alarm, hope, shock and grief.
For four days, Canadians have followed along as RCMP responded to a crime scene in southern Alberta that sparked an Amber Alert across three provinces and Montana.
In the end it was devastating news after the body of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette was discovered on Tuesday afternoon. Her father, 27-year-old Terry Blanchette, had been found dead early on Monday morning.
Derek Saretzky was charged Wednesday with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of indignity to a body in Hailey's death. He is in police custody and will next appear in court in Lethbridge on Sept. 23.
As Canadians try to understand, we take a look back at what happened this week and the vigils planned to help bring those in mourning together.
The public was made aware of the situation on Monday when police issued an Amber Alert.
- 3:30 a.m. RCMP say neighbours witnessed a white van speeding away from Blanchette's home.
- 11 a.m. A family member called RCMP to the house in Blairmore where they found Terry's body, which is when they discovered Hailey was missing. RCMP would spend the next three hours searching the neighbourhood and contacting relatives in an attempt to find her. Hailey's mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, said she found out about the search from Facebook and contacted police.
- 1 p.m. An Amber Alert is issued for Hailey.
On Tuesday morning, RCMP took Saretzky in for questioning.
- 8:50 p.m. RCMP victim services arrive on scene at a vigil in Blairmore to tell those in attendance that young Hailey's body was found.
- 9:24 p.m. Police announce on Twitter that the Amber Alert has been cancelled.
- 9:54 p.m. RCMP issue a release saying they believe they found Hailey's body.
- 10 p.m. RCMP hold a press conference announcing Hailey's body had been discovered.
The news shocked people across the country. RCMP promised to release more details on the suspect arrested on Wednesday morning.
- 10:00 a.m. Police hold a press conference to announce charges have been laid against 22-year-old Derek Saretzky. They also say the investigation will continue, and they were planning to search several areas for evidence.
- 11 a.m. Hailey's mom speaks to the media about her loss.
Hailey's mother Cheyenne Dunbar, 20, just spoke to media. She used to be a good friend of Derek Saretzky. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/RIPHailey?src=hash">#RIPHailey</a> <a href="http://t.co/E7WvWdPDpZ">pic.twitter.com/E7WvWdPDpZ</a>—@GeNormand
Hailey's father and mother had shared custody of the child. According to her mother, the toddler spent two weeks on and two weeks off with each parent. Dunbar was just preparing to head down from Edmonton to pick Hailey up.
She had been with her dad for the last couple of weeks. The manager of the restaurant where Blanchette worked as a cook described the father-daughter relationship as close.
"Why hurt Terry? Why hurt an innocent little girl? It's baffling to me. I'm sure there's a story and I hope it all comes out. We're all waiting to hear," said Tammy Tracey.
Blanchette's Facebook account is full of photos of his daughter, displaying a relationship that seemed to be extremely close. Dunbar said despite their break-up, she and Blanchette remained close and often exchanged photos of their daughter. The two-year-old has been described as a smart, beautiful child with lots of energy.
"Terry was an awesome father. He did everything he could for that little girl," Tracey told CBC News on Tuesday.
Becca Harrington, a family friend of the Blanchettes, went to his home Thursday to help his family clean up the house.
"You walk in. You know what's happened inside that house," she said. "It used to be such a bright happy place."
"It's hard to be in there," says Becca Harrington. She helped Blanchette family clean out home today. 1/2 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbc?src=hash">#cbc</a> <a href="http://t.co/kkpWfxAqni">pic.twitter.com/kkpWfxAqni</a>—@dempsterCBC
RCMP say Saretzky lived in Blairmore and came from a well-liked family in the Crowsnest Pass area.
Police also confirmed Saretzky and Blanchette knew each other, but did not provide details on their relationship. Neighbours have said the two men didn't get along.
Cheyenne Dunbar said that she was friends with Saretzky when she lived in the area but hadn't spoken to him in three years. She was unaware of any relationship between Blanchette and Saretzky.
Few have come forward to offer details about the man accused of murdering the child and her father.
Saretzky was working at a dry cleaning company owned by his family. He has two older brothers, and one of their wives took to Facebook Wednesday night to say the family was devastated.
RCMP have said the investigation is ongoing and haven't ruled out additional charges. More information on the case may become available when Saretzky appears in a Lethbridge coutroom Wednesday.
Investigators continue to comb through the rural area near Blairmore where Hailey's body was found.
Obituaries haven't yet been published for either victim, and there have been no details released on funeral arrangements.
RCMP still investigating multiple scenes in Blairmore area including property where Hailey's remains were found. <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/cbc?src=hash">#cbc</a> <a href="http://t.co/HdE1TAJJY2">pic.twitter.com/HdE1TAJJY2</a>—@dempsterCBC
Several funds have been set up to help the family members of the victim. The Hailey and Terry funeral fund has raised more than $24,000 already.
Some motorcycle riders in Calgary are organizing a fundraising ride this weekend from Longview to the Crowsnest Pass area in the memory of Hailey and her father at 10 a.m. on Saturday.
"We all have kids, or grandkids, or nieces, or nephews," said Troy Carlson, one of the organizers. "This one hits pretty close to home. I'm quite an introverted person and I tell you this tugged at the old heart strings."
Messages of support for the victims can be left here.
A memorial event is also being planned at Olympic Plaza in Calgary on Saturday at 6:30 p.m.
According to the Facebook group In Memory of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette there are candlelight vigils for Hailey and her father being held at the following locations:
- Community Baptist Church in Cold Lake, Alta., on Friday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m.
- Kin Coulee Park in Medicine Hat, Alta., on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 6:30 p.m.
- Maffeo Sutton Park in Nanaimo, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 18, at 8:30 p.m.
- Victoria Quay in Port Alberni, B.C., on Friday, Sept. 18, at 8 p.m.
- Rotary Park in Cranbrook, B.C., on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 6 p.m.
- Holland Park in Surrey, B.C., on Saturday, Sept. 19, at 7 p.m.