CALGARY — Investigators will head back to a rural area east of Calgary today to begin the gruesome task of collecting more evidence from the crime scene where the body of a missing five-year-old girl was found.
"There's also lots of work to still do,'' a sombre Insp. Don Coleman told reporters late Thursday at a news conference where he announced the slaying of little Taliyah Leigh Marsman, whose mother, Sara Baillie, 34, was found dead in their home on Monday.
Searchers combing through a rural property near Chestermere, Alta., found the body near a road beside a field. No effort had been made to bury the girl.
Police search a rural area near Chestermere, Alta. near where Taliyah Marsman's body was found. (Photo: Jeff McIntosh/CP)
Coleman said the investigation has concluded that Taliyah was already dead by the time police had been called: "There was nothing we could do before we even got involved.''
Edward Delten Downey, 46, is charged with two counts of first-degree murder. His next court appearance is scheduled for Wednesday.
Coleman said it's believed Baillie was the primary target of the crime. The cause of Taliyah's death was not known but an autopsy was to be held later Friday.
Five-year-old Taliyah Marsman was found dead on Thursday. (Photo: Calgary Police Services)
"It's disappointing,'' said Coleman. "We were hoping for a different outcome. The family is devastated, clearly.''
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau was scheduled to be in Calgary Friday to mark Stampede celebrations. He shared his condolences on Twitter.
"Heading to Calgary this morning with a heavy heart,'' he worte. "May Taliyah Marsman and Sara Baillie rest in peace.''
Taliyah had last been seen by her relatives on Sunday, and security cameras captured her and her mom at a Dairy Queen later that day.
CCTV footage shows Sara Baillie and Taliyah Marsman at a Dairy Queen the night before Baillie was found dead in her home. (Photos: Calgary Police Services)
The next morning, a girl matching Taliyah's description — and carrying a suitcase — was seen near the family's home with a man. Baillie's relatives called police when she didn't show up for work.
After officers found her body Monday night, they issued an Amber Alert for the little girl.
On Wednesday, a suspect was taken into custody at a strip mall. Coleman said he was giving "zero co-operation'' to investigators, though he later amended that to "limited'' co-operation.
Coleman also said the suspect was known to police and had an extensive criminal background with some violence.
Suspect believed to have known both parents
Downey, who also goes by the last name Simmons, appeared before a judge late Thursday. Police said it's believed he was known to both parents and the child.
There had been a `"limited'' history of domestic violence in the family, but police said Taliyah's father, Colin Marsman, co-operated with the investigation and issued his own plea for his little girl to be returned.
Police Chief Roger Chaffin said over the last three days, there were 100 officers working around the clock.
"Unfortunately they are completely devastated by the loss, as am I,'' he said.
Sara Baillie was found dead at her home on Monday night. (Photo: Facebook)
The heartbreaking end to the search prompted an outpouring of grief from those who knew the mother and daughter, as well as strangers who had hoped for the best.
"This is so heartbreaking,'' Alberta Premier Rachel Notley wrote on social media. "My condolences to the family of Taliyah and Sara — may they rest in peace.''
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi simply said: "Our hearts are all broken.''
Montreal Alouettes player Nik Lewis, who was a friend of Baillie's, said he was struggling to understand the tragedy.
"They say everything happens for a reason, but there is no reason to ever take the life of anyone, especially a child. My heart hurts,'' the CFL player wrote on social media. "I was at the airport for 30 min and looked for u last week, as I always did when I was there — 11 years wasn't long enough.''
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