Loretta Saunders case: Halifax police get warrants to arrest couple
Pair are in custody in Ontario after car belonging to Saint Mary's student found near Windsor
Halifax police have obtained arrest warrants to return to Nova Scotia the two people accused of stealing Loretta Saunders's car.
The missing Saint Mary’s University student was last seen Feb. 13. She had been reported missing by her family before her car turned up near Windsor, Ont., on Tuesday.
The 2000 Toyota Celica was found in the driveway of a home in Harrow where Ontario Provincial Police arrested Blake Leggette, 25, and Victoria Henneberry, 28.
The two have been charged with being in possession of a stolen vehicle.
Halifax police have been combing over the missing woman's apartment for the last two days. Court records indicate that Leggette and Henneberry had been living in the apartment with Saunders.
Halifax investigators said they'll travel to Ontario soon to return the pair to Nova Scotia.
Halifax Regional Police Const. Pierre Bourdages said the pair had outstanding warrants in Halifax and Calgary. Police told CBC News a fraud charge against Leggette is connected to the use of Saunders's bank card.
The man who owns the Harrow home where the car was found told CBC News he's friends with Henneberry and that the couple had been staying with him for the last few days.
Police said Leggette and Henneberry were acquainted with Saunders.
Saunders thesis on missing women
Saunders, an Inuit woman from Newfoundland and Labrador, is a student at Saint Mary's University. Her thesis focuses on missing and murdered aboriginal women, making her disappearance a surreal irony for her family.
The major crimes unit in Halifax is leading the investigation into her disappearance. On Thursday they searched Saunders's apartment looking for evidence.
“What we have is a young woman going to university [who] was in contact with her family every single day until Feb. 13, and since then, there hasn't been any contact,” said Const. Pierre Bourdages of Halifax Regional Police.
Police said they want to hear from anyone with information about Saunders's whereabouts. They also want to talk to anyone who saw her blue Toyota Celica between Halifax and Essex County in Ontario.
The car has Newfoundland and Labrador licence plates.
Community reaches out to family
A crowd-sourcing site has been started to help members of Saunders' family in Newfoundland and British Columbia fly to Nova Scotia to aid in her search. On Thursday morning, more than $2,000 of the $10,000 goal had been raised.
Cheryl Maloney, with the Native Women's Association, said people care and are offering the family help.
“I think it's important for all Nova Scotians ... all members of Halifax — this isn't just an aboriginal issue. If somebody has gone missing or murdered in our communities, in our universities, this is a concern to everybody. I think we should all come together and support the family," she said.
Family friend Kimberley Russell started a Facebook page to try to bring Saunders home.
“Just seeing her missing touched my heart and she was always a good person and nobody deserves this. I was really hoping that opening this group would get the word out to everybody,” she said.
The Facebook page "Help bring Loretta Saunders home" already has more than 5,300 members.
A woman claiming to be Leggette's cousin posted the following message under the Facebook profile Alisha Ann Leggette:
"I am filled with so many mixed emotions today. Waking up to hear that my cousin has been arrested because he has the car of a missing girl and then reading the comments on here. It's very hard to understand and believe that this is reality. The Blake that I have always known, I have never heard of him ever fighting with people, hurting people or stealing someone's car or bank card. To me this is so out of character for him, so it is really hard to come to terms with," she wrote.
"You would think with seeing comments posted about my family I would leave this group but I really want to stay updated because I hope that Loretta gets found soon and is safe. I am really hoping that my cousin will work with the police and give them all the information he knows about this young lady so she can be brought home to her family. Loretta, you and your family are in my thoughts."