Calgary family, police 'devastated' as charges laid in deaths of Taliyah Marsman, mother

The body of five-year-old Calgary girl Taliyah Marsman has been found days after her mother was discovered dead. Edward Downey, 46, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder.

46-year-old Edward Downey charged with 2 counts of 1st-degree murder

Edward Downey, 46, has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of five-year-old Calgary girl Taliyah Marsman and her mother, Sara Baillie. (CBC/Calgary Police Service)

The body of five-year-old Calgary girl Taliyah Marsman has been found days after her mother was discovered dead. 

Police later charged 46-year-old Edward Downey with two counts of first-degree murder.

"We are very saddened to be announcing today that we believe we have found the body of five-year-old Taliyah Marsman," Calgary police Chief Roger Chaffin told a news conference Thursday night.

He said the discovery has been a brutal blow both to the girl's family and the roughly 100 officers who have been working nonstop to find her since Monday night. That's when her mother, Sara Baillie, was discovered slain in a basement suite the two shared in the city's northwest.

"They are completely devastated by the loss, as am I," Chaffin said.

Calgary police presser on double murder

6 years ago
Duration 11:19
'They are completely devastated by the loss, as am I,' says Calgary police Chief Roger Chaffin

Taliyah's body was found just after 7 p.m. MT Thursday about eight kilometres east of Calgary, Insp. Don Coleman said.

Downey known to family, police say

Downey was charged by police a few hours later, saying he was the same man who had been taken into custody the previous night. 

Police say the accused is known to both victims. Police originally said Downey also knew Taliyah's father, Colin Marsman — Baillie's estranged common-law partner — but said in June 2017 they no longer had confidence in that information. Marsman is also originally from Nova Scotia.

Downey has an "extensive criminal history at play" and had shown "limited co-operation" with police, Coleman said. 

Police didn't offer an alleged motive.

"That's something we still have to figure out," Coleman said.

When asked whether police were looking at any other suspects, Coleman replied: "At this point, Mr. Downey is our only suspect."

Downey, who also goes by Simmonds, is scheduled to appear in court July 20. He will remain in custody until that date.

He was also ordered to have no contact with the girl's father.

Colin Marsman, 36, the estranged common-law partner of Sara Baillie, had earlier in the week made an emotional plea for the return of his daughter, Taliyah Leigh Marsman. (Facebook)

Mother may have been primary target, police say

When asked whether police thought the mother or daughter was the primary target, Coleman said he could only speculate. However, based on the timeline being put together by police, he said Sara was thought to be the more likely target.

Baillie's body was discovered Monday night by officers called to a house in the neighbourhood of Panorama Hills by family members who were concerned because she didn't show up for work and didn't answer their calls.

She had only recently moved into the basement suite with her daughter, a neighbour told CBC News.

Her death was quickly ruled a homicide and an Amber Alert was issued for her daughter.

People in Panorama Hills saw a little girl matching Taliyah's description walking with a stocky, black male on Monday morning near where Baillie's car was abandoned, police said Wednesday.

Sara Baillie was found dead in the home she was renting in Panorama Hills in Calgary late Monday. (Facebook)

On Thursday morning, police released pictures of a grey sedan that was being driven in the area around the time Taliyah was last seen. They said Thursday evening that Downey is believed to have been the driver.

Police believed Downey had been in the Chestermere area. He was arrested in a strip mall parking lot in Calgary near 32nd Avenue and 32nd Street N.E. Wednesday evening.

A search was conducted throughout most of Thursday on a rural property near Chestermere.

Earlier in the week, both Taliyah's father and relatives on her mother's side had made public pleas for the girl's safe return.

Police allege Downey was driving this grey sedan, spotted in the Panorama Hills area around the last time Taliyah was seen. (Calgary Police Service )

'We were hoping for a different outcome'

The inspector said it's possible both the mother and daughter were killed before police got involved Monday.

"It's disappointing for sure," he said.

"We were hoping for a different outcome and worked hard for that outcome."

"The family is devastated, clearly," Coleman said.

An autopsy is scheduled for Friday.

(Canadian Press)