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Police comb rural area east of Calgary for clues in AMBER Alert case
CTV Calgary Staff
Published Thursday, July 14, 2016 5:12AM MDT
Last Updated Thursday, July 14, 2016 9:38PM MDT
***UPDATE: The Amber Alert for Taliyah Marsman has ended following the discovery of a body near Chestermere. First-degree murder charges are pending agisnst an unnamed suspect in connection with the deaths of the five-year-old girl and her mother, 34-year-old Sara Baillie***
Police spent Thursday searching a rural area east of Calgary for five-year-old Taliyah Leigh Marsman and have taken a man into custody in connection to her disappearance.
At approximately 10:30 p.m., on Wednesday, July 13, police took a man into custody who investigators believe may have been involved in Taliyah’s disappearance.
“He’s in custody right now and he’s been arrested and he’s in custody right now being interviewed,” said Inspector Don Coleman of the Calgary Police Service Major Crimes Unit.
Police say they’ve obtained information that led them to a rural area east of Chestermere and they are searching there for evidence in relation to the case.
"We have information based on the investigation throughout last night that the individual we have in custody was in the area for a brief amount of time so were looking for anything that might be related to this,” said Coleman. "The search will continue until the search manager and the people that are doing that search are satisfied that it’s been searched completely.”
Officers are searching through ditches and fields about six kilometres west of Delacour on Range Road 281 north of Township Road 232, looking for evidence that may lead them to Taliyah.
Margaret Orr lives in the area, she says she noticed HAWCS flying overhead around 7:30am this morning and police showed up on her property shortly afterward.
“All he [the officer] said was that they have suspicion that something is in the area and asked if we’d make sure to keep an eye out,” said Orr.
Orr says she hopped in her golf cart and searched her property and buildings for any sign of Taliyah. “I have to admit, I keep calling her name, hoping that I will hear something or see something, but nothing so far,” said Orr. “I have grandchildren five, six, eight and 10 and my heart just goes out to that little girl feeling all alone and probably cold or, I don’t know. I just wish that we could find her safe.”
The man taken into custody is believed to have been driving a dark grey sedan in the Panorama community, which investigators believe was involved in Taliyah’s disappearance.
The car was seen driving close to where homicide victim Sara Baillie’s car had been recovered. CCTV footage obtained shows the car around the time when Taliyah was last believed to have been seen. Police have seized the vehicle.
“What we know is the victim’s vehicle was abandoned or moved to Pantego Close northwest. We believe that a male suspect, or black male, and a young girl, matching Taliyah’s description, went from that car into the grey sedan. The grey sedan has been recovered, we have that vehicle. The person we have in custody, we believe is the driver of that vehicle and we believe, at this point, that the person we have in custody is the individual that witnesses saw and we’re still working towards confirming that” said Inspector Coleman. “The vehicle was seized at the point of the individual's arrest In a shopping mall parking lot in the northeast corner of 32 Street and 32 Avenue northeast.”
The AMBER Alert remains in effect and police are asking people to continue to keep an eye out for the little girl.
“The public should continue to be looking out for Taliyah and any information they think might be of value should be passed on to investigators," said Coleman. “ The investigation and investigations like these are very fluid and they can literally change in a moments notice so our minds are open to that even though we have a suspect in custody, but we're not blind to other options that may exist.”
Police have also released CCTV images that were captured from a Dairy Queen in the neighbourhood of Sandstone Valley on Sunday evening. It’s the last time Taliyah and her mother, Sara Baillie, were seen together.
The video shows the mother and daughter in the restaurant around 5:30 p.m. They’re seen looking at birthday cakes and talking to a family. Police are now trying to track down that family.
Investigators say witnesses in the Panorama Hills community saw a girl matching Taliyah's description on Monday at about 11:30 a.m. and say she was seen with a stocky, black male near the area where Baillie's car was found.
“We have witness information that was obtained through neighborhood inquiries. Witnesses believe they saw a black male and a young female, they believe matched Taliyah’s description at approximately 11:30 on Monday and then get into another vehicle,” said Coleman.
The girl was wearing red or pink rain boots with white polka dots and carrying a red suitcase.
“We’re hopeful that she’s safe. We’re going to remain hopeful that she’s safe and that she’s just with somebody that’s trying to figure out what to do,” said Calgary Police Inspector, Don Coleman. “If the girl seen in panorama with the boots and the suitcase is in fact Taliyah, the suitcase is a promising indication that whoever she's with has intentions of caring for her to some degree. We’re hopeful that whoever does have her, like I said before, maybe didn’t realize the situation or is trying to figure out how to resolve it. Whoever that is needs to be aware that anytime children are harmed that changes the game and takes things to a whole new level for everybody.”
Police are still on scene at the home where Taliyah's mother, Sara Baillie, was found dead on Monday night.
A makeshift memorial for Baillie is growing on the front lawn, along with notes of hope that the little girl will be found.
Karen Mok, who lives in the community, dropped off flowers at the home Wednesday morning. She says she wants the family to know that the neighbourhood is supporting them in their difficult time.
"I did not know them, but I just wanted to let the family know that we’re here to support them and we’re hoping and praying that we can find her." said Mok.
Police have not named any suspects, but are talking to people of interest.
An autopsy was scheduled for Tuesday. Police say they’ve confirmed Baillie’s death is a homicide but have not released the cause of death.
Meantime, Taliyah’s extended family are pleading for her safe return.
“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.
Calgary Police issued an AMBER alert early Tuesday morning after Baillie was found dead in the basement suite in which she lived and her daughter was discovered missing.
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 Baillie’s family were unable to reach her.
Police say there was no sign of forced entry into the home.
“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.
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.
On Tuesday, volunteers were handing out flyers featuring Taliyah’s picture and description around the Panorama Hills neighbourhood. Sheila Do was 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.