Suspect in double homicide of mother and child might have burned evidence, say police
Jasmine Lovett and her infant daugher, Aliyah Sanderson, were last seen on the evening of April 16
Read the latest developments on this story: Bodies believed to be missing mom and daughter found in Kananaskis
Calgary police say their main suspect in the homicide investigation of Jasmine Lovett and her infant daughter, Aliyah Sanderson, might have attempted to burn evidence.
The investigation into the disappearance of the woman and her child was in its sixth day Monday, but search efforts in the Bragg Creek area west of the city have been stalled due to heavy snowfall over the weekend.
"Through the investigation, police believe the suspect may have attempted to destroy evidence related to the homicide by means of burning, some time between Tuesday, April 16, and Saturday, April 20, in the area of Bragg Creek, Elbow Falls, Priddis and/or East Kananaskis," reads a news release issued Monday morning.
"Anyone who may have seen signs of a suspicious fire in an unusual area, not in a designated fire pit, is asked to contact police."
Police have not released the name of the person they arrested last week, but they confirmed that the man who they released without charges on Friday remains their primary suspect.
However, a man who said he lived with a missing and suspected dead mother and toddler told reporters he was arrested and questioned by police, and released without charges.
Robert Leeming said he owns the townhouse in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Cranston that was being searched by police, and was a roommate with Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter.
He also said he and Lovett had been romantically involved "on and off."
Leeming told reporters Friday that he believes he is still a police suspect.
Police also said Monday that they continue to look for information on the movements of a grey Mercedes SUV in the same area they've been searching.
"Members of the public are advised not to attempt a search on their own during this time period as it could result in accidental destruction of evidence under the snow," reads the news release.
On Friday, police had asked anyone who witnessed a Caucasian man in his mid-30s driving a grey, luxury SUV in the Bragg Creek or East Kananaskis area between April 16 and April 18 to contact investigators.
Leeming said he had gone out to the Bragg Creek area for a picnic with the mother and daughter on April 17, and he last saw them in the evening of April 18.
Police, however, had said the pair were last seen on the evening of April 16 at the Cranston townhouse.
Lovett's financial accounts were last active two days after that, when her card was used for an online purchase.
Her family became aware of her disappearance after she didn't show up at a family dinner.
The child's biological father, Robbie Sanderson, is not considered a suspect and is co-operating with police.
Leeming told reporters that Lovett and her daughter had been living at his townhouse as tenants since October.
No charges have been laid against Leeming, and he says he's innocent.
Leeming was charged last May after an incident of animal cruelty involving a dog in his care, in the Priddis area. He pleaded guilty on May 19 to three counts: permitting an animal to be in distress, failure to ensure the animal had adequate food and water, and failure to provide adequate shelter, ventilation and space. A fourth count of trespassing on a property in the Priddis area, from May 16, was dropped.
On August 15 he was fined $2,000 and prohibited from owning an animal for 10 years.
Monday afternoon, the City of Calgary issued a statement on behalf of the Lovett family.
"Thank you to everyone who is helping in the search for Jasmine and Aliyah. Our hearts are shattered and we continue to seek answers to the questions many of you are asking.
"If anyone has any information about this case, we beg of you to please contact police.
"We are not yet ready to speak publicly and request our privacy during this extremely difficult time."