Missing mother, daughter feared dead and girl's father isn't suspect detained by police

The case of Calgary mother and her toddler missing for more than a week is now being treated as a double homicide, with police saying Thursday afternoon that they have a suspect in custody and it's not the 22-month-old girl's biological father.

Jasmine Lovett and daughter Aliyah have not been heard from since April 16

Jasmine Lovett, right, and her daughter, Aliyah Sanderson are missing and presumed dead, police say. (Calgary Police Service)

Read the latest developments on this story: Bodies believed to be missing mom and daughter found in Kananaskis

The case of Calgary mother and her toddler missing for more than a week is now being treated as a double homicide, with police saying Thursday afternoon that they have a suspect in custody and it's not the 22-month-old girl's father.

The Calgary Police Service issued a request for help from the public on Wednesday to find Jasmine Lovett and her daughter, Aliyah Sanderson, who was 22 months old. Their disappearance is now being treated as a double homicide.

Jasmine Lovett was living in Cranston, a community in southeast Calgary, police say. (Calgary Police Service)

"We have spoken to the biological father and he is cooperative and he is not a suspect at this time," said Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta of the Calgary police homicide department. 

The suspect was detained by police Thursday morning, but Sciavetta said at a news conference Thursday afternoon that no charges had been laid.

He said the crime is not believed to be random. The suspect and the victims had known each other, he said.

The suspect in custody is a Calgary resident who was previously known to police.

Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta speaks to reporters Thursday. (Tim Propp/CBC)

Lovett, 25, and her daughter were last seen on the evening of April 16 at their home in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Cranston, police said.

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, Schiavetta told reporters Thursday.

"We did a very exhaustive investigation into the footprints of life, this including social media, health care, phones, banking information, the fact that our victims were not in contact with her family, which is very inconsistent," Schiavetta said.

Officers ride on horseback near Priddis, Alta. Police say they are searching Bragg Creek and the surrounding area. (Tim Propp/CBC )

"After conducting all those searches, we have not found any footprints of life and this leads us to believe that there is no evidence to support that our victims are alive."

"Any investigation involving a child is extremely difficult. A lot of the members within the homicide unit have children themselves," Schiavetta said.

He said an investigation into electronic devices led to the search of the area in southern Alberta. 

Police are co-ordinating with multiple other agencies to search the Cranston area and the area around Bragg Creek for evidence — though Schiavetta said that Lovett and Aliyah had no obvious connection to Bragg Creek.

An officer takes photos at a complex of townhouses called Mosaic Cranston in Calgary’s southeast on Thursday. (Helen Pike/CBC )

"So we're working with search and rescue and many external agencies to search areas that are obviously very wooded and mountainous in that area," Schiavetta said.

He asked homeowners in Bragg Creek and the surrounding area to check their properties and contact police or RCMP if they see anything suspicious.

"Sometimes it's the smallest piece of evidence that could assist the investigation," Schiavetta said. 

The Calgary crime scene unit has cordoned off a section of Cranford Court S.E. within a complex of townhouses called Mosaic Cranston.

A vehicle has also been seized from the Cranston area, Schiavetta said.

Schiavetta added that police have already received dozens of tips from the community.

'I'm breathless'

Cranston resident Sami Shariff told CBC News he saw a man in handcuffs sitting on a nearby lawn.

"I'm breathless," he said. "I would have never expected that in Cranston."

Other neighbours have said that police have been on-site for several days.

Tolga Tunzun, who recently moved in a few doors down in Mosaic Cranston, said he saw police combing through a garage at one particular unit that has been the focus of much police attention.

Dave Gibson said he has seen officers search nearby buildings and the grass in communal green spaces.

"When I came in here today, I saw this forensic crime scene set up here and that's a little bit alarming because that's not normal," he said early Thursday afternoon. "Police were here yesterday doing a lot of investigation but I wouldn't think it would lead to what we see here now."

Police are urging anyone with information to contact them or Crime Stoppers.

With files from Reid Southwick, Helen Pike, John Gibson, Rachel Ward and Jade Markus


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