The man taken into custody in relation to the disappearance of a Calgary mother and her 22-month-old daughter has been released but remains the prime suspect according to police.
The owner of a southeast townhouse where Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson live confirmed to CTV on Friday afternoon that he has been arrested and interviewed by police in connection with their suspected deaths. Speaking outside of his home, Robert Leeming told reporters that he had been questioned as part of the double homicide investigation. He also confirmed that he owns a Mercedez-Benz SUV and was uncertain whether his vehicle had been towed by police.
The 34-year-old called the situation stressful and says he has not been permitted to return to his home in the 100 block of Cranford Court S.E. as officers continue to search the residence.
Leeming says Lovett was his tenant and had lived with him for the last seven months. He says he last saw Lovett on the Thursday prior to the Easter long weekend and has no idea what happened to Lovett and Sanderson.
According to Leeming, Lovett and Sanderson moved into his home in October 2018 following a response to an online ad. He admits that he had an intimate relationship with Lovett but they were not exclusive.
Leeming says he had been to a picnic area near Bragg Creek with Lovett and Sanderson ahead of their disappearance and the three of them returned together. "We went for beers and chilled out and came back," said Leeming. “They were here on the next day. I went somewhere else and they weren’t here when I came back.”
Leeming, a British citizen who states that he has permanent resident status in Canada, says Aliyah is a 'great kid' and that he would take care of her at times. "I had no issue with them at all."
The landlord says he is not responsible for their disappearance and disputes the likelihood that they're no longer alive. “Of course not. Of course not. Who says that they’re dead? That’s crazy. I don’t know where they are and that’s the biggest thing is…if they were dead than the CPS would know, right? But they’re not. They don’t know. That doesn’t necessarily mean it has anything to do with me.”
According to Leeming, police will find nothing incriminating during the search of his garage. "They will find nothing because I did nothing wrong."
Investigators are looking to speak with anyone who saw a man in his 30s driving a grey, luxury SUV in the Bragg Creek or East Kananaskis areas between April 16 and 18. Officers believe the man was in the area of the Fullerton Loop and Elbow Falls between 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. on April 18. According to police, the man may have been alone or with one or both of the victims. Police also believe he may have had mulch in the vehicle.
Anyone with information is asked to call police at 403-266-1234 or the Homicide Tip Line at 403-428-8877.
Lovett and Sanderson were last heard from on April 16 and were reported missing April 23 after failing to show up for a planned dinner with family. Lovett's bank card was last used on April 18 for an online delivery, however police said they don’t know who made that purchase or where it was sent.
Police confirm a vehicle has been seized in connection with the investigaiton.
Police have been dividing the focus of their search efforts between two areas; a residence in the community of Cranston and the greater Bragg Creek area including Priddis and Kananaskis. Along with a wooded area near Bragg Creek, police are searching near several properties about 10 kilometres to the east of that, saying they were led there after analyzing electronic devices like cell phones, though they wouldn’t say who the devices belong to. More than 50 officers from various agencies are assisting with the search.
Property owners in the area, along with hikers and bikers, are being asked to keep an eye out for anything suspicious or if they see what looks like fresh mulch on the ground.
Police were initially investigating the disappearances of Lovett and Sanderson as a missing persons case before reclassifying it as a double-homicide investigation after they were unable to find any inidcation that the mother and daughter were still alive.
Police say Sanderson’s biological father is not considered a suspect in the case and he has been cooperative with investigators.
Timeline of events:
- Tuesday, April 16 – The last time anyone heard from Jasmine Lovett
- Thursday, April 18 – Last time Lovett’s bank card was used, however police don't know who used it
- Tuesday, April 23 – Lovett and her daughter reported missing after failing to attend family dinner
- Wednesday, April 24 – Police appeal to the public for help finding Lovett and Sanderson
- Thursday, April 25 – Suspect arrested in Cranston, taken into custody, Search of Cranston and Bragg Creek/Priddis area commences
- Friday, April 26 – Police confirm man taken into custody has been released. Request information from the public regarding SUV in Bragg Creek/East Kananaskis