Mother of slain toddler gives statement at triple-murder sentencing

Derek Saretzky will receive an automatic life sentence in the killing of three people in 2015

  • Jun. 29, 2017 7:30 a.m.

The loss of her child has torn her life apart, Cheyenne Dunbar told a courtroom Thursday, during Derek Saretzky’s triple-murder sentencing hearing.

It took a Lethbridge, Alta, jury less than three hours on Wednesday to find the 24-year old guilty in the 2015 deaths of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar, her father Terry Blanchette, 27, and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech, in the community of Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

He was also found guilty of performing an indignity to Hailey’s body.

In Dunbar’s victim impact statement, read by Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou, she said she struggles with anxiety and depression.

“She was my world and my everything to me,” Dunbar wrote. “They say time heals all wounds, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t.”

“Being a mother was a blessing that was stolen from me.”

A number of other family members of the three victims made statements.

Saretzky will receive an automatic life sentence. It has yet to be determined whether he will be eligible for parole in 25, 50 or 75 years.

Crown prosecutor Michael Fox said Saretzky should not be allowed to apply for parole for 75 years, based on the brutal nature of the crimes and the recommendations of the jury.

“(Hailey) was the ultimate target,” he said. “We have moral culpability at the highest level. We have acts that show a level of callousness and disregard for human life, which defies comparison to any other case that I’ve been able to find.”

“The victims here were mere pawns of Mr. Saretzky’s thrill seeking, I don’t know how else to describe it, and his unspeakable violence,” he said.

Citing confessions to RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike McCauley, where Saretzky said the killing of the senior citizen was a rehearsal for the slaying of the toddler and her father, Fox urged the court to impose the maximum punishment.

“He was describing what he did,” said Fox. “There was planning, there was practice.”

Meketech was found deceased in her home in Coleman on Sept. 9, 2015.

Blanchette was found dead in his home on Sept. 14 that year. The RCMP issued an Amber Alert for Hailey that spanned three provinces and the U.S. state of Montana.

Her remains were discovered the next day in a rural part of the Crowsnest Pass community of Blairmore.

In a video-recorded confession, Saretzky led police to Hailey’s remains where he described starting a fire with books and bits of wood before strangling the little girl and burning her body.

RELATED: Disturbing video confessions played at trial

“So you choked her here,” asks McCauley.

“Yeah,” replies Saretzky.

The video showed Saretzky explaining how he said a prayer for Hailey after burning her body.

“What kind of prayer?” asks McCauley.

“May God rest your soul, something… I don’t know exactly what it is, but something along those lines,” he says.

Defence lawyer Patrick Edgerton said he would submit his arguments in July. Saretzky will be sentenced on Aug. 9.

Just Posted

Vancouver measles outbreak prompts vaccine vigilance on Island

No cases here yet, but Island health authorities push measles vaccinations - and not just for kids

The long winding road to Tofino-Ucluelet—then and now

If you are feeling frustrated about the Highway 4 closures, sit back read about what came before.

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

Farm and Garden Show coming to Tofino

Greenthumbs unite at the Tofino Botanical Gardens from Feb. 22-24.

Steelhead LNG stops work on Kwispaa LNG project near Bamfield

Huu-ay-aht First Nations ‘deeply disappointed; Steelhead says funding is the problem

VIDEO: Massive elk herd runs across Washington State highway

Elk have been making an appearance in the Pacific Northwest

Winter storm freezes U.S., halts air travel

Storm dumps snow or heavy rain, snarls travel in much of U.S.

Gwyneth Paltrow: Skier sued me to exploit my fame, wealth

The incident happened in Deer Valley Resort in Park City, Utah

B.C. Seniors Advocate questions labour shortage in care homes

Are there really no workers, or are care aide wages too low?

B.C. business groups worry about looming economic decline in wake of NDP budget

The party’s second government budget focused on plenty of spending, business advocates say

Man injured in police shooting near Nelson has died: B.C. police watchdog

The death follows an incident in Bonnington on Feb. 13

Experts urge caution after 10 human-triggered avalanches across B.C.

One man is still stuck after avalanche on south coast

‘It consumed my life’: Inside the world of gaming addiction

World Health Organization classifies gaming disorder as a mental health condition

Police seize bottles of grapefruit vodka from wanted man’s snow-pants

The men were pushing two shopping carts with a woman inside

Most Read