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 yesterday 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 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.
Coleman said the investigation has concluded that Taliyah already was dead by the time police had been called.
“There was nothing we could do before we even got involved,” he noted.
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 will be held today.
“It’s disappointing,” said Coleman. “We were hoping for a different outcome.
“The family is devastated, clearly.”
Taliyah last had been seen by her relatives on Sunday, and security cameras captured her and her mom at a Dairy Queen later that day.
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.
Downey, who also goes by the last name Simmons, appeared before a judge late yesterday.
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 100 officers were working around the clock over the last three days.
“Unfortunately they are completely devastated by the loss, as am I,” he noted.
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.”