Calgary mother found in laundry hamper 'beyond any help,' officer testifies at double murder trial

Before Const. Bradley Nykoluk discovered Sara Baillie's body stuffed into a laundry hamper in her daughter's bedroom closet, there were signs the victim and her daughter had recently been alive. Nykoluk testified on Day 4 of Edward Downey's trial.

Edward Downey faces charges of 1st-degree murder in the deaths of Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman

Sara Baillie, left, was found dead in the home she was renting in Panorama Hills. The body of her five-year-old daughter, Taliyah Leigh Marsman, was found three days later. (Facebook)

Before Const. Bradley Nykoluk discovered Sara Baillie's body stuffed into a laundry hamper in her daughter's bedroom closet, there were signs the victim and her five-year-old had recently been alive. 

A still-damp towel hung in the bathroom, a little girl's beloved iPad was charged and on her mother's bed and an unopened can of Red Bull, Baillie's version of a morning coffee, sat on the kitchen counter. 

Nykoluk testified on Day 4 of Edward Downey's trial. Downey is charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Baillie and her daughter Taliyah Marsman.

After she failed to show up for work or drop off her daughter at daycare on the morning of July 11, 2016, Baillie's family called police.

Nykoluk — who had done a cursory search of Baillie's home earlier in the evening — returned around 8 p.m. with a feeling he was "missing something" and combed through the apartment more thoroughly.

"I reached to move the laundry hamper out of the way but it wouldn't' budge. It was a lot heavier than I thought it should be."

See a timeline presented at the trial below. 

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The officer pulled a pile of clothes off the top of the hamper.

"I could see the seat of jeans and there was two feet sticking out with painted toe nails," said Nyloluk.

He then touched one of the feet.

"It felt cold and was waxy," the officer said.

Nykoluk said his instinct was to see if the woman could be saved but quickly realized Baillie was "beyond any help."

Baillie's body had been wrapped in duct tape. Two of Downey's fingerprints were on that duct tape.

Video seized from the neighbourhood — buses, taxis and home security cameras — showed a car identical to the one known to be driven by Downey parked just metres away from Baillie's home before 8:43 a.m.

Edward Downey, 48, has been in custody since his arrest. His jury trial is set to last until December 14, 2018. (CBC)

Baillie's car was moved from outside her home around 10:15 a.m. It ended up around the corner, parked in front of Douglas Jesson's home.

Evidence from Downey's cellphone will show it was near Baillie's home on the morning she was killed and then in the rural area where Taliyah's remains were discovered, according to prosecutor Carla MacPhail.​

Jesson testified that as he and his wife were eating lunch on July 11, 2016, he watched as a short, black man walked with a small, crying girl from a white Ford Fusion — which was Baillie's — to a sedan with tinted windows across the street. The sedan was a grey Dodge Charger with tinted windows, just like the one owned by Downey's girlfriend.

As for a motive, in her opening statement, MacPhail told jurors they should consider whether Downey blamed Baillie for encouraging his girlfriend to leave him and because she had refused to work as an escort.

It was about 8:30 p.m. when Nyloluk called in the crime scenes and homicide units.

Court of Queen's Bench Justice Beth Hughes is presiding over the trial. 

About the Author

Meghan Grant

CBC Calgary reporter

Meghan Grant is the courts and crime reporter for CBC Calgary.