LETHBRIDGE — The father of an Alberta man who was killed almost two years ago described in court Monday finding his son’s lifeless body and his two-year-old granddaughter missing.
Derek Saretzky, 24, is charged with first-degree murder in the death of 69-year-old Hanne Meketech, as well as in the deaths of Terry Blanchette and his two-year-old daughter Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.
William Blanchette told Saretzky’s trial he last saw his granddaughter alive Sept. 13, 2015 when they spent the day together in Blairmore, Alta., while his son was at work.
He told court he returned to his son’s home the following day and knocked on the door, yelling “anybody home?” No one answered, even though Terry Blanchette’s car was parked outside.
He said he assumed they had gone out for a walk and went to a gas station to fill up. He told court he sent his son a text message and tried phoning him, but there was no response.
He went back to his son’s home and let himself inside through an unlocked door. After noticing blood on the kitchen floor, he said he went into the bathroom and turned on the light.
“That’s when I found Terry,” he told court.
He said his son was lying on the floor, partially covered in a blanket, with a huge cut on his neck. There was no sign of his granddaughter so he said he called 911.
An Amber Alert was issued that extended across Western Canada and into the United States, but Hailey was found dead a few days later.
Court has already heard that Saretzky confessed to police that he killed Terry Blanchette and Hailey, as well as Meketech — whose body was found five days earlier in her mobile home in September 2015.
The Crown has said Saretzky had inside knowledge of the deaths and provided details to police that only the killer would know. The prosecution also said Saretzky took officers to a remote area where the girl’s remains were found in a campsite firepit, along with a hatchet and a metal pot.
Saretzky has pleaded not guilty to the murder charges, as well as to a charge of committing an indignity to the girl’s body.
No motive has yet been suggested in any of the deaths.
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 has described Saretzky as an old friend whom she hadn’t spoken to in years.
Under cross-examination, William Blanchette told court his son and his ex-wife shared custody of Hailey, normally for two weeks at a time. At the time of their deaths, he said his son had Hailey for about five weeks while his ex-wife was moving.
His son and ex-wife got along when it came to Hailey but otherwise “they had their issues,” he told court.
The trial continues Tuesday.
Delon Shurtz, Lethbridge Herald, The Canadian Press