Hanne Meketech knew Derek Saretzky and likely kept $90K in her mobile home, triple-murder trial hears
WARNING: Story contains graphic details that may be disturbing to some readers
An Alberta senior found dead in a pool of blood knew the man accused of brutally murdering her and likely kept up to $90,000 in cash in her mobile home, a triple-murder trial in Lethbridge, Alta., heard Friday.
Derek Saretzky used to live across the street from Hanne Meketech in the southern Alberta community of Coleman and would do odd jobs for the senior, according to testimony on Day 3 of the trial.
That testimony came from Saretzky's grandfather, Terrence Megli, who was longtime friends with Meketech.
The 69-year-old woman was found beaten and stabbed in her bedroom on Sept. 9, 2015.
- Hanne Meketech struggled with attacker and died from head wound, Derek Saretzky murder trial hears on Day 2
Saretzky, 24, has pleaded not guilty to three counts of first-degree murder: in the Meketech case, as well as in the deaths of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father, Terry Blanchette, 27, who lived in neighbouring Blairmore in the Crowsnest Pass area.
Saretzky, also of Blairmore, is also facing a charge of committing an indignity to the body of the toddler.
Today's testimony in Court of Queen's Bench focused on the death of Meketech.
- Follow the latest in the trial from our reporters in the courtroom here.
Megli testified that his daughter — Saretzky's mother — and her son used to live across the street from Meketech.
He said Saretzky would occasionally go over to Meketech's mobile home to mow the lawn or help out with housework.
He also testified that Saretzky had reached out to him in September 2015 but he refused to allow his grandson to visit him at the time.
"He was having trouble with alcohol and with drugs, and I didn't want that in my house," Megli said.
Megli said he knew Meketech for at least 25 years and remembered her as a kind woman who adored animals and was "a little simple."
"I don't know how to say it; I don't want to be disrespectful to her," he testified.
"She was a good friend."
The 69-year-old worked in a thrift store in Coleman, where she was employed through an organization that provides work and training to adults with developmental disabilities.
Regular restaurant customer
The jury also heard Friday from Lisa Markowski, who manages Chris' Restaurant in Coleman, where Meketech was a regular.
Markowski said Meketech came into the restaurant every day between 10:45 and 11 a.m. and would call if she was going to be late.
Meketech was friendly with everyone at the eatery, Markowski said, so it was odd when she didn't show up on Sept. 9, 2015, and didn't call.
Markowski's brother, Dwight LaRose, also testified Friday.
He was Meketech's neighbour and he recalled specifically that the door to her mobile home was closed and secure around 8:45 p.m on Sept. 8, 2015.
He testified that he was out walking his dog at the time and remembered how his dog ran up to the door and sniffed it.
Police found the door broken and ajar the following day. Meketech's body was discovered in a bloody scene in the bedroom.
Under cross-examination, Megli said Meketech had recently received an inheritance of approximately $90,000 and he believed she kept the cash in her mobile home.
"She didn't trust the bank," he said.
Meketech had recently purchased a new TV and washing machine, he testified.
Meglis also said Meketech had been through a "messy divorce" in the past and her ex-husband had wanted the mobile home she lived in.
Near the end of the cross-examination, Saretzky's lawyer asked Megli about a statement he gave to police about an argument Meketech had with a neighbour prior to her death.
Megli said it wasn't a serious fight.
"Two old hags just getting on each other's nerves," he said.
Trial to last weeks
The trial concluded after only about an hour of total testimony today.
The Crown told the judge a "light day" was in order for the jury, after the grisly evidence presented on Day 2 of the trial.
The trial is expected to last three to four weeks, hear from dozens of witnesses and include nearly 40 exhibits, some of them quite gruesome, the Crown has warned.
Blanchette was found dead and his daughter missing from their home in Blairmore, a community of about 2,000, on Sept. 14, 2015. Hailey was found dead in a rural area near Blairmore.
Saretzky was charged with two counts of first-degree murder two days later. Seven months later, police charged him with first-degree murder in the death of Meketech.
By "pure coincidence," Papadatou said the officer in charge of the Meketech investigation went to the scene of the Blanchette killing and noticed striking similarities between the two slayings, which led police to later link the cases.