ALBERTA

Derek Saretzky Ordered To Undergo Psychiatric Assessment

09/30/2015 12:19 EDT | Updated 09/30/2015 12:19 EDT

LETHBRIDGE, Alta. — The man accused of killing a two-year-old southwestern Alberta girl and her father earlier this month has been ordered to undergo a 30-day psychiatric assessment.

Derek Saretzky made a brief appearance Wednesday via video link a Lethbridge, Alta., courtroom. The 22-year-old, clad in a blue jumpsuit, had a solemn demeanour, with his eyes downcast much of the time.

Saretzky is back behind bars after being taken to hospital last week. Media outlets have quoted sources as saying he tried to commit suicide by hanging himself.

"He is walking and talking. Of course he's very concerned about everything that's going on, but he appears to be well,'' said Patrick Edgerton, a lawyer with the Edmonton-based firm representing Saretzky.


There are two reasons for the psychiatric assessment, said Edgerton.

"First is to determine whether or not the accused is fit to stand trial. In a basic sense, that means whether or not he understands what's going on, understands the court process,'' he said.

"The second is to see what his mental state was at the time of the offence, what was going on his head.''

The assessment will be done at the Southern Alberta Forensic Psychiatric Centre in Calgary.

The case is due back in court in Lethbridge on Oct. 29.

Saretzky is charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her father, Terry Blanchette, as well as with a separate charge of committing an indignity to the little girl's body.

Saretzky was arrested after Blanchette's body was found in his Blairmore, Alta., home earlier this month.

Authorities couldn't find Hailey and issued an Amber Alert that stretched across Western Canada and into the United States.

Her body was found a day later in a rural area near Blairmore.

News of the girl's death broke during a candlelight vigil where residents of the tight-knit town had gathered to pray for her safe return.

Police have said Saretzky and Blanchette were acquaintances, but have not elaborated on how the two men knew each other.

The little girl's mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, has described Saretzky as an old friend to whom she hadn't spoken in years.

Saretzky's family is well known in the blue-collar mountain town as owners of a local dry-cleaning business.

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