THE CANADIAN PRESS
Five-year old Taliyah Leigh Marsman was found deceased on Wednesday.
“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.
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 will be held today.
“It’s disappointing,” said Coleman. “We were hoping for a different outcome. The family is devastated, clearly.”
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.
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 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.
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.”