Calgary

Townhouse owner says he's a suspect in case of presumed dead mother and toddler

A man who said he lived with a missing and suspected dead mother and toddler told reporters he was arrested and questioned by police, but released without charges.

He remains the primary suspect in the case, police say

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


A man who said he lived with a missing and suspected dead mother and toddler told reporters he was arrested and questioned by police, but released without charges.

Robert Leeming said he owns the townhouse being searched by police, and was a roommate with Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter, Aliyah Sanderson.

He told reporters Friday that he believes he is still a police suspect, and that he had been interviewed by police. No charges have been laid against Leeming, and he says he's innocent.

"They have it wrong, as far as I'm concerned," he said.

Man suspected in deaths of Calgary mother, daughter speaks to media

CBC News Calgary

2 years ago
15:35
Man suspected in deaths of Calgary mother, daughter speaks to media 15:35

He confirmed that Lovett and Aliyah had been living at his townhouse as tenants since October.

Leeming spoke to CBC News from outside a restaurant and bar in Calgary, and said that he had spent time there since his release earlier that day, because he's been unable to return to his home since police were still searching it.

He says he and Lovett had been romantically involved "on and off."

Police have not released the name of the person they arrested, but they confirmed that the man who they released on Friday remains their primary suspect.

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 their home in the southeast Calgary neighbourhood of Cranston.

Leeming confirmed to CBC News that he owns a Mercedes-Benz SUV.

Earlier 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.

Police are asking anyone who witnessed a Caucasian man in his mid-30s driving a grey, Mercedes SUV like the one pictured in Bragg Creek, Elbow Falls, Priddis and/or East Kananaskis between April 16 and 20 to contact them. (Calgary Police Service)

On Saturday, police released a stock image of a Mercedes SUV they say is believed to have been driven by the man described in that area.

They say the man might have been in the Fullerton Loop/Elbow Falls recreation area of Kananaskis between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on April 18. Police said he may have been alone or with either Lovett or Aliyah and that he might have had mulch in his vehicle.

The search for evidence in the suspected double homicide of Lovett, and Aliyah was suspended Saturday due to inclement weather conditions in Bragg Creek, but investigators continued to search a Cranston home.

A winter storm warning was in effect for the Bragg Creek region, with about 10 to 20 centimetres of blowing snow expected.

Investigators search the woods in a recreational area southwest of Bragg Creek on Friday. (Helen Pike/CBC)

Lovett's financial accounts were last active April 18, when her card was used to make an online purchase. Police have not been able to confirm Lovett was the one who made that purchase.

Her family became aware of her disappearance after she didn't show up at a family dinner.

Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta has said investigators have not found any evidence to support their hope that the mother and daughter are still alive.

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

More than 50 officers from multiple units, including some on horseback, continue to search near Bragg Creek and Priddis after police say cell towers showed there may be evidence in the area.

Calgary police's forensic crime scene unit is continuing to search a home in Cranford Court S.E. within a complex of townhouses called Mosaic Cranston.

Bragg Creek homeowners asked to search property

Bragg Creek homeowners are being asked to check their property and report anything suspicious, especially if mulch has been dumped on their land between April 16 and April 20.

Police have said the crime is not believed to be random and the suspect and victims knew each other.

I really just want them found — that's it. I want some closure.- Josie Sanderson, Aliyah's aunt

The child's biological father, Robbie Sanderson, is not considered a suspect and is co-operating with police.

Josie Sanderson says Lovett and her brother, Robbie, broke up several months ago.

Sanderson, who lives in St. Catharines, Ont., says she used to regularly video chat with her niece, whom she described as a happy and smart child. 

"I really just want them found — that's it. I want some closure," she said.

Sanderson said she was up all night crying, looking at photos of her niece, after police announced that homicide detectives were investigating.

She called Lovett a good mother.

"Jasmine was a really good mother. She would never put her daughter in any danger willingly like that."

Anyone with information is asked to contact police non-emergency at 403-266-1234 or the homicide tip line at 403-428-8877. People can also leave tips anonymously through Crime Stoppers.

With files from Dave Gilson, Elissa Carpenter, Jade Markus, Sarah Rieger, The Canadian Press

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