Fam­ily friend charged in killing of tod­dler, dad

Mom hung out with ac­cused, but hasn’t seen him in years and is baf­fled by the deaths

Toronto Star - - NEWS -

BLAIR­MORE, ALTA.— The mother of a 2year-old girl killed in south­ern Al­berta broke down in tears af­ter an old friend of hers was charged with first­de­gree mur­der in the case.

Cheyenne Dun­bar said she has no idea why some­one would want to harm her daugh­ter, Hai­ley Dun­bar-Blanchette.

“She was my baby,” she told re­porters out­side the Blair­more RCMP de­tach­ment Wed­nes­day morn­ing. “I don’t know why any­body would do this to her.”

RCMP say Derek James Saret­zky faces two counts of first-de­gree mur­der in the deaths of Hai­ley and her fa­ther Terry Blanchette, 27.

“Mr. Saret­zky also faces one count of in­dig­nity to a hu­man body in re­la­tion to Hai­ley’s death,” Supt. Tony Hamori said.

The girl’s body was found Tues­day near Blair­more and her fa­ther’s body was dis­cov­ered in a home in the town on Mon­day. Hai­ley was the sub­ject of an Am­ber Alert that stretched across Western Canada and into the United States.

Blanchette and Dun­bar were sep­a­rated, but Dun­bar, who lived in Blair­more but re­cently moved to Ed­mon­ton, said the two main­tained a good re­la­tion­ship and both cared for the girl.

Dun­bar, 20, said Saret­zky, 22, was an old friend of hers, but they never dated, as some re­ports have sug­gested. She said both she and po­lice are baf­fled by the killings. She said she hadn’t spo­ken to Saret­zky in years and had for­got­ten about him.

“When I knew him, he was a great kid. That is all I know,” she said. “We were friends, we hung out ev­ery once in a while. Me and his friends all hung out. It was fine. There was never any up­set­ness in the group. There was never any mad­ness.”

Po­lice have said Saret­zky and Blanchette were ac­quain­tances, but Dun­bar didn’t know how they knew one another.

The case be­gan to un­fold early Mon­day morn­ing when Hai­ley’s fa- ther was killed in his home and his daugh­ter was taken away in a speed­ing white van.

An Am­ber Alert for Hai­ley was is­sued and a mas­sive search en­sued.

News that Hai­ley’s body had been found be­gan to cir­cu­late Tues­day night at a can­dle­light vigil meant to lend hope in the search.

As an of­fi­cial with vic­tims ser­vices an­nounced the Am­ber Alert had been can­celled, one young woman col­lapsed into a friend’s arms and sobbed.

Oth­ers sniffed qui­etly and wiped away tears. Some just stood in stunned si­lence. A group co­cooned Hai­ley’s grand­mother in an em­brace.

Blanchette has been de­scribed by friends and fam­ily as a de­voted sin­gle fa­ther.

He worked as a cook in a res­tau­rant and had many crim­i­nal con­vic­tions be­tween 2010 and 2012 for is­sues such as fail­ing to ap­pear in court, fail­ing to stop his ve­hi­cle, evad­ing po­lice, mi­nor theft and as­sault.

But af­ter Hai­ley was born, there were no more court ap­pear­ances. His Face­book posts switched from talk of court dates to pic­tures of him with his baby daugh­ter.

A woman iden­ti­fied as Hai­ley’s ma­ter­nal grand­mother, Terry-Lynn Dun­bar, posted a state­ment from the fam­ily on Face­book Wed­nes­day, thank­ing peo­ple for their sup­port.

“The Dun­bar and Blanchette Fam­i­lies will be for­ever bro­ken,” it read.

“I’m sure you have read all sorts of aw­ful things on so­cial media about our fam­i­lies, as well as news broad­casts and ra­dio pro­grams, but just know this: Terry and Cheyenne loved their lit­tle girl more than any­thing in the world.”

Hai­ley’s mother said she will miss ev­ery­thing about her lit­tle girl.

“She was smart, beau­ti­ful, the great­est child ever,” she said. “I am go­ing to miss her smile. The way she ran around say­ing ‘mummy’ — ev­ery­thing.”


Cheyenne Dun­bar, right, is com­forted as she speaks to the media about the mur­der of her daugh­ter, Hai­ley Dun­bar-Blanchette, and the girl’s fa­ther.

RCMP con­firmed they found the body of 2-year-old Hai­ley Dun­barBlanchette.

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