Double murder suspect escorted into arrest processing unit
The prime suspect in the murders of a Calgary mother and her 22-month-old daughter was brought by police to the arrest processing unit just before 11:00 p.m. Monday night.
There is no official word yet that he has been formally charged so police are not naming him but he is 34-year-old Robert Leeming the same man who says he was questioned and released by police more than a week ago.
Police have recovered the bodies of a woman and a child, believed to be Jasmine Lovett, 25, and her 22-month-old daughter Aliyah Sanderson.
The bodies were found about 4 a.m. Monday in a wooded area near Grizzly Creek, along Highway 40 west of Calgary.
“Earlier today a man was taken into custody and charges of second degree murder are currently pending. The suspect cannot be named by the police until charges are officially laid by the Justice of the Peace. This is expected to occur later today or early tomorrow morning. However I can confirm the suspect is the same man who was taken into custody two weeks ago,” says Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta.
The suspect was taken in to custody just after 11:00 a.m. Monday morning and Schiavetta says right now police have determined there are no other alternative suspects.
Lovett’s landlord, Robert Leeming, has previously confirmed to reporters he was the man arrested but denied any involvement in the pair’s disappearance.
Leeming told reporters Lovett and her daughter moved into his condo in the southeast community of Cranston in October 2018.
She was reported missing April 23 after failing to show up at a planned family event.
Lovett was last heard from by family on April 16 and police said her bank card was last used April 18 for an online delivery, however they were unable to confirm she made the purchase.
Schiavetta says this has been a lengthy and complex investigation.
“We believe Jasmine and Aliyah were killed between Tuesday, April 16th and Wednesday, April 17th. We believe their bodies were subsequently transported by the suspect to the Grizzly Creek area sometime between Wednesday, April 17th and Saturday, April 20th. We believe the suspect and Jasmine were in a relationship and this was a targeted attack motivated by domestic related matters,” says Schiavetta.
Speaking to reporters after being released, Leeming said he went out to a picnic area near Bragg Creek with Lovett and her daughter on the Thursday before the Easter long weekend and they returned home safe.
In a statement released Monday afternoon the Lovett Family said, “Our family would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the entire Calgary Police Service as well as those who have worked diligently in the search for Jasmine and her baby girl Aliyah. We would also like to thank the public for their continued support which has meant a great deal to us. Our lives have been devastated and our hearts are heavy. We are trying to understand how this tragedy could have happened to our loved ones.”
Autopsy results are still pending and police expect to receive those results Tuesday night.
Late Monday night residents in the southeast community of Cranston started tying ribbons around trees as a show of support for the victims’ families.
“We decided on purple for domestic violence, white for women against violence and pink for Aliyah,” says one of the organizers Tamara Duffy. “As a community we’ve lost somebody; we’ve lost a part of our community so it’s important that we acknowledge who they were.”
Duffy says the entire community is in shock and this is the best way to honour them.
Police had been searching an area along Highway 66, also west of Calgary, saying they were led there by examinging cellphones and electronic devices, however police wouldn't say who those belong to.
Police say this investigation is not over and would like to speak to anyone who was in the Grizzly Creek recreational area between Wednesday, April 17th and Sunday, April 21st and noticed anything suspicious or a grey Mercedes SUV.
Police received 250 tips from the public during this investigation.
Police wouldn't comment on what led them to the Grizzly Creek area but did say the investigative process had picked up momentum over the past several days.
He says during the investigation Calgary police received support from RCMP, Alberta Parks, and Search and Rescue and Fish and Wildlife and says there are still two crime scenes out in Kananaskis and investigators may be there for a while. “It’s a large area and obviously the topography is challenging; we have unpredictable weather and currently we have bears in the area so we’re working with Alberta Parks to make sure all our members are safe.”
Investigators were also back at the home in Cranston on Monday.
“We’re still investigating and it’ll be up to the investigative team to determine if further search warrants will be executed at the residence,” says Schiavetta.
He says the vehicle seized from the home two weeks ago is still in police custody pending further warrants.