June preliminary hearing for suspect in deaths of Alberta father, child

Family members of a slain two-year-old girl and her father were in court for the first time Friday to witness the appearance of the man accused in the crimes.

LETHBRIDGE — Family members of a slain two-year-old girl and her father were in court for the first time Friday to witness the appearance of the man accused in the crimes.

Derek Saretzky appeared briefly via closed-circuit television from the Calgary Remand Centre. He is charged with first-degree murder in the September deaths of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette.

Saretzky, 23, is also charged with committing an indignity to the little girl’s body.

Hailey’s maternal grandmother, Terry-Lynn Dunbar, was one of the relatives at the Lethbridge courthouse, but declined comment.

A victims services member, who accompanied the family, said she was helping them navigate the court system.

Dunbar posted a statement in September after the bodies were found.

“As a mother and (formerly) grandmother my pain is unimaginable at the loss of my only grandchild in such a horrific manner,” she wrote.

“The Dunbar and Blanchette families will be forever broken.”

After a lengthy psychological assessment, Saretzky has been found fit to stand trial. A preliminary hearing, which is to determine if there is enough evidence for a trial, is scheduled for 10 days starting June 20.

He was arrested after Blanchette’s body was found in his Blairmore, home in the Crowsnest Pass of southwestern Alberta on Sept. 14. Authorities couldn’t find Hailey and issued an Amber Alert that stretched across Western Canada and into the United States.

Her body was found a day later in a rural area near Blairmore.

News of the girl’s death broke during a candlelight vigil where residents of the tight-knit town had gathered to pray for her safe return.

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, Cheyenne Dunbar, has described Saretzky as an old friend to whom she hadn’t spoken in years.

Saretzky’s family is well known in the blue-collar mountain town as owners of a dry-cleaning business.

Just Posted

More than $25k raised for Red Deer firefighter who is recovering in hospital

‘I think the support he’s getting is because of the person he is’

Lacombe backs Blackfalds stormwater plan

Stormwater management plan will open up more land for development in Blackfalds

Two men facing charges in alleged abduction

RCMP issued alert for woman on Wednesday morning who was found safe later that day

Red Deer RCMP seek public assistance to identify suspect in indecent acts

Red Deer RCMP are looking for a man believed to be responsible… Continue reading

WATCH: Two weeks away from Canadian Finals Rodeo in Red Deer

In just two weeks, Ponoka’s Shayna Weir will compete with the best… Continue reading

Leon Draisaitl has overtime winner as Edmonton Oilers down Boston Bruins 3-2

EDMONTON — Connor McDavid set up Leon Draisaitl for the overtime winner… Continue reading

Edmonton girl guide sells out of cookies in front of cannabis store on first day

EDMONTON — She’s being called one smart cookie. As people lined up… Continue reading

New vacuum needed: Calgary family adopts three bonded St. Bernard buddies

EDMONTON — Three adult St. Bernards who couldn’t be separated because they’re… Continue reading

Film with Fan Bingbing, Bruce Willis cancelled after tax case

BEIJING — The director of “Air Strike,” featuring Chinese actress Fan Bingbing,… Continue reading

Michael Buble shuts down rumours of retirement from music

LOS ANGELES — Michael Buble is shutting down rumours that he’s going… Continue reading

After Canada legalizes pot, industry eyes rest of the world

MONTREAL — Cam Battley is a top executive at one of Canada’s… Continue reading

Facebook’s election ‘war room’ takes aim at fake information

MENLO PARK, Calif. — In an otherwise innocuous part of Facebook’s expansive… Continue reading

Military to overhaul morale-boosting trips after review finds serious problems

OTTAWA — Canada’s top general is overhauling military morale-boosting tours after an… Continue reading

Most Read