'He told me [Hailey] was in heaven': Father of man on trial for triple murder tells jury
WARNING: Story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers
One day after Terry Blanchette's bloodied body was found in his home and an Amber Alert activated for his missing two-year-old daughter, accused murderer Derek Saretzky told his father the little girl "was in heaven," jurors heard today.
Larry Saretzky broke down sobbing shortly after he began testifying at his son's triple-murder trial in Lethbridge, Alta., Tuesday.
"Do you have children, sir?" Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou asked.
Clutching a tissue, Larry Saretzky tearfully answered after a few seconds: "Yes."
Derek Saretzky, 24, of Blairmore, Alta., has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder in the 2015 slayings of Hanne Meketech, 69, of Coleman, Terry Blanchette, 27, and his daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, who also lived in Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass area of southern Alberta.
- 'A big cut on his neck': Father recalls finding son dead, granddaughter missing at Alberta triple-murder trial
The father said he had a terrible feeling when his son showed up at the family cleaning business the day after Terry Blanchette's body was found. Larry Saretzky said he had already informed police the white van connected to the Amber Alert for the missing toddler looked like one from the company fleet.
"He wanted to talk to me ... he was worried about something," the father said in his testimony. "I could tell there was something wrong, you know when you look at your kids."
Larry Saretzky said he told his son police needed to find the missing child and asked if he knew anything.
"He told me she was in heaven," said the distraught father.
He kept asking questions but told the jury Derek was "incoherent" and talking "gibberish," so he took him to police who were waiting nearby.
"Derek wants to tell you something now," Larry Saretzky said to the officers. His son was then arrested for murder.
Blood found in crib
Earlier in the day, Cpl. Fred Ridding testified. He is the RCMP officer who took hundreds of photos of the blood-stained crime scenes, including the home where Terry Blanchette's body was found, a van believed to be the vehicle used in the kidnapping and killing of Blanchette's two-year-old daughter, and Saretzky's own home.
Ridding showed jurors dozens of images of blood — drops, streaks and smears — all over Terry Blanchette's home.
Bloody footprints led up the stairs from Blanchette's main floor to his young daughter's bedroom. Inside her crib, red stains can be seen on a doll and pillow.
Inside Saretzky's apartment, which is connected to his family's cleaning business, investigators seized a number of items including more than a dozen knives, books on serial killers and murderers, and a pair of boots that appeared to have blood on the toe.
Police found blood all over the apartment; on floors, doors, the kitchen and clothing and several pairs of latex gloves.
'Death is only the beginning'
A pick axe, hammer, goggles, blood stained rope and a hatchet were also gathered from the accused's home.
Jurors were shown photos of graffiti on coffee table that read "one shot, one kill … this is not the end, death is only the beginning."
On Monday, Terry Blanchette's father, Bill, testified he discovered his son's body on Sept. 14, 2015, when he popped in for a visit on his way to Calgary.
Bill Blanchette found his son dead on the bathroom floor and there was no sign of his granddaughter, whose remains were found in a rural area near Blairmore.
Saretzky confessed to all three killings in statements to police, Papadatou said on the first day of trial.
His lawyer later told reporters there were "reliability issues" with the confessions.
A blood spatter analyst is scheduled to testify on Wednesday.
Follow the latest in the trial from our reporters in the courtroom here.