Nova Scotia

Loretta Saunders's family relieved by murder guilty pleas

Family members of Loretta Saunders say they're relieved the Halifax university student's two roommates have pleaded guilty to murder charges, avoiding a long, emotional court trial.

Roommates of Halifax university student admit killing her over rent money they owed

RAW: Loretta Saunders's family reacts to guilty pleas

7 years ago
Duration 6:48
Delilah, Miriam and Clayton Saunders, Loretta's sister, mother and father, respectively, spoke to media on Thursday

Family members of Loretta Saunders are relieved her two roommates have admitted they murdered the Halifax university student, but say justice must still be sought for other missing and murdered aboriginal women in Canada.

"Why are our children, our people, being murdered and killed more," Miriam Saunders, Loretta's mother, said at news conference Thursday.

On Wednesday in Nova Scotia Supreme Court, surprise guilty pleas were entered by Blake Leggette, 26, and Victoria Henneberry, 29. Leggette pleaded guilty to first-degree murder and Henneberry to charge of second-degree murder. 
The body of Loretta Saunders was found on the median of the Trans-Canada Highway, near Salisbury, N.B., on Feb. 26, 2014. (Facebook)

Saunders, a 26-year-old Inuk woman studying at Saint Mary's University, disappeared just before Valentine's Day in 2014. Her body was discovered in the median of the Trans-Canada Highway, west of Salisbury, N.B., a couple of weeks later. 

Family members of the dead woman said they are grateful for the guilty pleas, which spare them from listening in a public forum to the graphic details about the murder. 

"God has answered our prayers and given us what we asked God to give us," Miriam Saunders said.

She and her husband Clayton said they sympathize with the parents of the murderers as they too are suffering.

"I'd like to let them know I have them in my prayers," Miriam Saunders said. 

Although the family is not ready to forgive, she said she feels no hate and believes Leggette is remorseful.

"He's human. We're all human. We all got the same heart," she said.

The court heard Wednesday that Saunders was killed because Leggette and Henneberry couldn't afford to pay their rent for a room they were leasing from her. When Saunders arrived at the apartment on Feb. 13, 2014, Hennebery lied and said she'd lost her bank card.

Leggette crept up behind Saunders while she was sitting on the couch and grabbed her by the throat. He tried to suffocate the woman with plastic bags, but she broke through them all and only stopped moving when Leggette smashed her head on the floor. 

Miriam Saunders said she had warned her daughter against getting roommates. And her father says his daughter would help Leggette and Henneberry with money and take them to the movies. 
Delilah Saunders says more needs to be done to get justice for murdered and missing aboriginal women in Canada. (CBC)

"My daughter didn't deserve it," Clayton Saunders said. "I think she would have made a big difference in Canada. She was going to do a lot of work."

Loretta Saunders was writing her thesis on missing and murdered indigenous women at the time she was killed. Her sister, Delilah, said that legacy will continue. 

"There are women who do not receive justice and families who do not receive answers," she said.

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