Leeming charged, autopsy identifies bodies as Lovett and Sanderson
Accused killer Robert Leeming has been formally charged with two counts of second-degree murder for the deaths of Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter, Aliyah Sanderson.
The 34-year-old appeared in a Calgary courtroom on Tuesday morning by CCTV.
Leeming is being represented by well-known defence lawyer Balfour Der.
"This is obviously a highly stressful time for him but beyond that, the case is just so new, so fresh that ... there isn’t a lot that we can give you at this point in time," Der told reporters outside the courthouse.
Leeming is scheduled to appear in court next on May 14.
The bodies of Lovett and Sanderson were recovered by police about 4 a.m. Monday in a wooded area near Grizzly Creek, along Highway 40, west of Calgary. Police would not say what led them to the area.
Search teams had previously been focused on areas along Highway 66 near Bragg Creek, which is a few kilometres east of where the bodies were located.
Speaking to reporters after he was released last month, Leeming denied any involvement in the pair’s disappearance.
Lovett and Sanderson were reported missing April 23 after failing to attend a family event.
They were last heard from by family on April 16 and Lovett’s bank card was used for an online delivery on April 18, however police say they don’t know who actually made that purchase.
Leeming told reporters he’d gone to a picnic area near Bragg Creek with Lovett and her daughter and the trio returned home safely.
Police offered a different version of events during a press conference Monday. Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said officers believe Lovett and Sanderson were killed on the evening of April 16 or morning of April 17 and their bodies transported to the Grizzly Creek area sometime between April 17 and 20.
“We believe the suspect and Jasmine were in a relationship and this was a targeted attack motivated by domestic related matters,” he said on Monday.
An autopsy confirmed the bodies were those of Lovett and Sanderson, however police have said they will not be releasing causes of death.
Officers want to speak to anyone who saw a man in his 30s driving a grey, Mercedes SUV in the Bragg Creek, east Kananaskis or Grizzly Creek areas on those days.
Several residents in Cranston spent Monday evening 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.”
In a statement released Monday afternoon, the Lovett Family thanked police for their work.
“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.”
Anyone with information is asked to call the homicide tip line at 403-428-8877 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477.