A desperate search for a little girl abducted after her mother's murder in their Canada home has come to a devastating end as law enforcement officials announced they found a body believed to be the missing 5-year-old child.
Calgary Police say they found a body they believe is Taliyah Leigh Marsman on a rural property east of Chestermere on Thursday, bringing the three-day search for the little girl to a tragic end.
An Amber Alert was issued for the little girl not long after police found her mother, Sara Baillie, 34, dead in their rented Panorama Hills apartment in Calgary at about 8:30 p.m. Monday.
Edward Delten Downey, 46, was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the killings of the mother and daughter, police said.
Downey, who police said has an “extensive criminal history,” was acquaintances with Baillie and Taliyah, authorities said. He was taken into custody at about 10:30 p.m. Wednesday.
Authorities believe Downey is the same “stocky black male” witnesses reported seeing with a little girl whose description matched Taliyah’s about 11:30 a.m. Monday. They were seen getting out of a vehicle belonging to Baillie and into a dark gray sedan.
But investigators believe Taliyah was already dead when the search to find her began.
“We were hoping for another outcome, and worked hard for another outcome,” Inspector Don Coleman of the major crimes unit told reporters. “Clearly, by the timeline, there was nothing we could do.”
Baillie’s relatives tearfully pleaded for the safe return of Taliyah during an emotional press conference earlier this week, begging for whoever took her to bring her 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 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 child’s remains were found off a roadway in a rural field with some storage or grain bins and it appeared no attempts had been made to hide or destroy her body, officials said.
The exact location of where she was discovered will not be released to protect the integrity of the scene, police said.
A candlelight vigil was held for the pair after Taliyah’s body was found, as tributes to the slain mother and daughter poured in on social media.
“Would give up absolutely anything to be with these two right now. My heart is in shambles for them both,” Alex Hamilton, Baillie’s cousin, wrote on Facebook.
“I am speechless and shocked of what has happened. There was no need for this senseless violence. May both of you rest in peace,” another person posted.
A friend wrote: “The only consolation we have is that you two are together now under God's loving arms. We will always remember the memories we all shared together.”
Baillie was remembered as a doting mom who would do anything for her daughter. Relatives realized something was wrong after the hardworking single mother failed to show up for work Monday.
“Taliyah was Sara’s world,” Hamilton told reporters. “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.”
Police have said Downey was the only suspect, and a motive for the killings is still under investigation.
He will appear in court on July 20.