The family of a woman found dead in her northwest Calgary home has issued an emotional plea for the safe return of her five-year-old daughter.
At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, they begged for the person who abducted five-year-old Taliyah Leigh Marsman to return the child.
“Please return her. Drop her off at an RCMP station, Calgary Police Service station or grocery store, gas station, wherever you want. Contact the family; we’ll come and pick her up. There will be no questions asked. We love her, we miss her and we want her back,” said Scott Hamilton, the uncle of Taliyah’s mother, Sara Baillie.
Baillie was found dead in her Panorama Hills home on Monday evening. Her daughter, Taliyah, is missing.
Calgary Police issued an AMBER Alert early Tuesday morning. Taliyah is believed to have been abducted by an unknown person. She is mixed race, with a slim build, brown curly hair, and blue eyes. Her clothing is unknown.
“She’s not your average five-year-old girl. She’s very mature,” said a family member. “If you ever got to talk to her or saw her, you wouldn’t know she was five. You’d think she was more seven or eight-years-old. She’s taller than most kids and very mature.”
“Taliyah is a vivacious, wonderful child. Curious,” said Hamilton, choking back tears.
He says she enjoys spending time playing on her iPad, and she just recently learned to ride a bike. “It sits in our garage waiting for her to come back.”
Taliyah’s extended family say they are very close. She often has sleepovers with her great aunt, Marilynne, and great uncle, Scott.
“Taliyah would come over and have supper with us,” said Hamilton, “always engaging, always wanting to watch cartoons – while perhaps someone else, like myself, would want to watch the news, but that was ok cause it was Taliyah… She would sleep with Marilynne and I until I snored too much, and then I would have to leave the bed.”
Officers were called to a home in the 1000 block of Panamount Boulevard N.W. at about 8:30 p.m., on Monday, after Sara Baillie’s family were unable to reach her.
Police say there was no sign of forced entry into the home, the death is suspicious and they are treating it as a homicide.
“We’ve lost a niece, a sister, a daughter, and a mother within the last 12 hours. God rest her soul,” said her uncle, Scott Hamilton. “Sara was a beautiful young woman who single handedly was raising her daughter and we love her and we miss her.”
The mother and daughter were the only tenants living in the basement of the home. The landlord and upstairs neighbor, Olumuyiwa Dada, says they were good tenants who caused no problems and had few visitors. He says he saw them last week and didn’t know anything was wrong until a family member came by on Monday afternoon.
“I saw a young guy around 12:30 knocking on the door. So, I came out the back door and he said ‘I want to see her.’ I said, ‘she must have gone to work.’ He said, ‘no’, they had been trying to locate her since 10 o’clock and they couldn’t get her,” said Olumuyiwa.
Police say Baillie didn’t show up for work, at the Chili’s Grill in the Calgary Airport, on Monday and the last time anyone had seen Taliyah was 11:30 a.m. Sunday morning.
Police say they have spoken to several family members to try to track down the girl, including her estranged father who, they say, is cooperating with the investigation.
Police say he is not a suspect but the couple has a history of domestic violence and were recently in court over their daughter.
Inspector Don Coleman with the Major Crimes Section says Taliyah’s mother and father were known to police because of a history of reported and unreported domestic violence.
Investigators are casting a wide net in an effort to locate the five-year-old.
“We’re looking provincially. There’s nothing to suggest that Taliyah is outside of Calgary, but we’re not ruling out any possibilities including that she may be in the care of somebody right now – having been dropped off and that person or those people may not know what’s transpired,” said Coleman.
Police say they were previously looking for a 2016 white Ford Fusion. That vehicle was located in the community of Panorama Hills, not far from the home, but the girl is still missing.
Officers are still on scene at the home and the Forensic Crime Scene Unit will be working to complete a forensic examination on the house and the vehicle.
Meantime, volunteers are handing out flyers featuring Taliyah’s picture and description around the Panorama Hills neighbourhood. Sheila Do is one of them. “I’m just hoping she’s ok and all,” said Do.
Do occasionally babysat for the family. She says that Taliyah is like a little sister to her.
“She’s energetic and she smiles and laughs and we had fun when we were together,” said an emotional Do. “We used to play toys together – Barbies.”
Mike and Tania Koloff live next door to the family. Tania says she’s shaken. “[It’s] very scary, very sad for what this family is going through right now. I hope that little girl is ok,” said Tania.
Mike says the events are a complete shock. “Knowing there’s a missing five-year-old and an AMBER alert issued for the home right next door is disturbing to say the least – we generally don’t see high crime in this neighbourhood. It’s fairly quiet.”
Anyone with information is urged to call 403-53-AMBER (403-532-6237), the Calgary Police or Crime Stoppers.