Nova Scotia

Loretta Saunders murdered over rent money, court documents show

Blake Legette and Victoria Henneberry murdered Loretta Saunders because they didn’t have the rent money they owed her, an agreed statement of facts shows.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details

Loretta Saunders was doing her thesis on the issue of murdered and missing aboriginal women when she was killed. (Gofundme)

Blake Leggette and Victoria Henneberry killed Loretta Saunders because they didn't have the rent money they owed her, according to an agreed statement of facts read out at their murder trial.

On Wednesday, the couple pleaded guilty in Supreme Court to murdering the 26-year-old Halifax woman. They have yet to be sentenced.

Court documents reveal some of the details of the crime. 

Leggette, 26, and Henneberry, 29, moved to Halifax in January 2014 and sublet a room in an apartment leased by Saunders. The university student had posted an online ad for roommates because she mainly lived with her boyfriend. 

Landlord/tenancy issues soon arose at the Cowie Hill Road apartment. Leggette and Henneberry were short on money and wanted to leave Halifax.

Leggette decided to kill Saunders, steal her car and leave Nova Scotia, according to the documents.

Saunders tried to fight off attackers

On Feb. 13, 2014, when Saunders came by at 11 a.m. to collect the rent, he put his plan into action when she sat on the living room couch.

Henneberry lied to Saunders by telling her she'd lost her bank card and needed to call the bank. That kept Saunders on the couch as Leggette crept up behind her. He grabbed her by the throat and choked her. She attempted to fight him off, but ended up on the floor of the dining room.

"Mr. Leggette tried to strangle or suffocate Ms. Saunders with a plastic bag, but Ms. Saunders was able to tear the bag," the statement of facts revealed.

She broke through three more bags before Leggette smashed her head on the floor and she stopped moving. He wrapped her face in plastic.

Leggette put the body in a hockey bag and cleaned up.

Leggette and Henneberry left the apartment to return a computer to get some cash. After they came back, they took the hockey bag to the elevator and rode down to the main floor. They carried the bag outside and put it in the trunk of Saunders's car.

'I'm so stressed'

The couple then packed their belongings into the car and left Nova Scotia. They used Saunders's bank card to buy food for the trip and Henneberry used the victim's phone, pretending to be Saunders, in an attempt to get a password from the dead woman's boyfriend.

The text said, "I'm so stressed that I can't like even remember my own mother's maiden name."

When they reached Salisbury, N.B., they stopped the car during a snowfall and hid her body among trees on a highway median.

The couple drove on to Harrow, Ont., where they stayed with a friend. They were arrested on Feb. 18. Police found Saunders's car parked at the friend's home, along with her identification and bank card.