Authorities are desperately searching for a 5-year-old girl they believe has been abducted after her mother was murdered in their Canada home.
An Amber Alert was issued for Taliyah Leigh Marsman not long after police found her mother, Sara Baillie, dead in their rented Panorama Hills apartment in Calgary at about 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Investigators said on Thursday they had taken a man into custody they believe may have been involved in Taliyah’s disappearance.
The Calgary Police Service said in a release they are searching a rural area east of Chestermere for evidence in the case.
The man, who taken into custody about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, is believed to have been driving a dark grey sedan involved in Taliyah’s disappearance, cops said. The car was seen driving close to where her mother's car was recovered.
Police released images of a car they believe was involved in Taliyah's abduction, which they said was seen near where her mother's car was recovered. (Calgary Police Service)
CCTV footage obtained by police showed the car around the time when Taliyah was last believed to have been seen.
The development in the case came after devastated family members still reeling from the loss of Baillie pleaded for Taliyah's safe return, tearfully begging whoever took the little girl to let her go home.
“Please return her. Drop her off at an RCMP station, Calgary Police Service station, or a grocery store, gas station, wherever you want,” Baillie’s uncle, Scott Hamilton, said as he choked back tears during a press conference Tuesday.
“Contact the family, we'll come and pick her up. There will be no questions asked. We love her, we miss her, and we want her back,” he said as family and friends standing next to him sobbed.
Hamilton’s wife, Marilynne Hamilton, spoke directly to Taliyah, reminding her how much her family cares about her.
“Taliyah, honey, if you are watching this, we love you. Stay strong, honey,” she said as she wept. “Please, if you have Taliyah, please let her come home to her family.”
The couple struggled to put into words how much the little girl means to them, and tears came easy as the pair recounted their time spent together and her wife array of interests.
Calling her “vivacious,” “wonderful” and curious, Hamilton said Taliyah "lives in our hearts when we’re not with her and she’s in our thoughts."
“She has many interests … Marilynne had just recently taught her to ride a bicycle. The bicycle sits in our garage waiting for her to come back,” he said while fighting tears.
The couple often helped with Taliyah as her mother worked every day to provide for the girl.
“Sara still lives with us all on stage,” Hamilton said between sobs. “Sara was a hardworking, single mother and doing the very best that she could with what she had.”
It was after Baillie, 34, had failed to show up for work at a Chili’s restaurant at the Calgary airport Monday morning that relatives became concerned something was wrong.
The loving mother’s death has been ruled a homicide, but the cause of death will not be released, police said.
“Sara was a beautiful young woman who was single-handedly pretty much raising her daughter and we love her and we miss her,” Hamilton said.
Baillie and her daughter loved each other very much, their family said, referring to the pair as “inseparable.”
“Taliyah was Sara’s world,” Hamilton said. “Taliyah referred to Sara as Mama and it wasn't necessarily like a mother-daughter relationship. It was almost like watching two sisters at times get along.”
"She fills my heart with so much joy,'' Baillie wrote on a video she posted to Facebook in March of Taliyah reading.
There were no signs of forced entry at the home, Inspector Don Coleman of the Calgary Police Service major crimes section told reporters.
He said that Baillie and Taliyah’s father, her estranged husband Colin Marsman, had a “limited” history of domestic violence, according to reports.
Marsman, 36, who also goes by the surname Paris, was the subject of a conditions ordered peace bond, or a criminal court order, that listed Baillie as the complainant, CBC/Radio-Canada reported.
The peace bond was issued on March 2, after unlawful confinement and intimidation charges were dropped against Marsman. He was accused of preventing Baillie from using her cellphone to call police in connection with a February 1, 2015 incident, the Calgary Herald wrote.
“With all my heart, I love her sooo much; she is my light! Please allow her to come home to her family,” Marsman reportedly said in a statement released by his friend Gabriel Goree. “Those who know me best, know the person and kind of father I am, and know more than anything, I just want my baby girl back.”
Marsman has spoken to police and is cooperating with the investigation, Coleman said.
Taliyah is a mature 5-year-old, behaving more like a 7- or 8-year-old, and is tall for her age, friends said.
She has a slim build, brown curly hair and blue eyes.
Witnesses told police that they spotted a girl matching Taliyah’s description wearing red or pink books with white polka dots and carrying a reddish suitcase.
The girl was with a stocky black man about 11:30 a.m. Monday, near Panamount Boulevard N.W. — not far from where Baillie’s car was recovered, cops said. It was not immediately clear if the man taken into custody on Wednesday matched the description of the man witnesses believed they saw with Taliyah.
Anyone who believes they have seen Taliyah should call 911 immediately.
Police are also searching for a family who may have been the last to see Baillie alive and with her daughter. CCTV footage obtained by police showed Baillie and her daughter at a Dairy Queen about 5:30 p.m. Sunday talking with a group people who authorities are trying to identify.
Anyone with information about the homicide is asked to contact police by calling the non-emergency line at 403-266-1234 or the Homicide Unit Tip Line at 403-428-8877.