KANANASKIS – Jasmine Lovett would have celebrated her 26th birthday last week.
That was before Calgary Police and investigators found Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter, Aliyah Sanderson, dead in Kananaskis Country at approximately 4 a.m. on May 6.
“Our family would like to extend our heartfelt gratitude to the entire Calgary Police Service as well as those who have worked diligently in the search for Jasmine and her baby girl Aliyah,” the Lovett family said in a statement.
“We would also like to thank the public for their continued support which has meant a great deal to us. Our lives have been devastated and our hearts are heavy. We are trying to understand how this tragedy could have happened to our loved ones.”
Robert Leeming, 34, from Calgary, was taken into custody and charged with two counts of second-degree murder with his next appearance in the Calgary courthouse scheduled for May 14.
Lovett and Sanderson were last seen on April 16 in the Cranston neighbourhood of Calgary. Nine days later, Calgary Police Service (CPS) officials said the investigation was being treated as a potential double homicide.
The investigation led officers to a heavily wooded area near Grizzly Creek located off Highway 40, where the bodies of the missing mother and daughter were discovered weeks later according to the Calgary Police Service.
Autopsies were expected to start May 6 and the Office of the Chief Medical Examiner will do formal identificationon Lovett and Sanderson on May 8.
Earlier in the investigation, officers asked anyone who had seen signs in Kananaskis Country of a suspicious fire between April 16 to 20 in an unusual area, not in a designated fire pit, to contact police.
“[There are] details that are crucial to the evidence that will be released at trial that cannot be released today ... The initial search of the crime scene provides evidence consistent with previous media releases,” Calgary Police Service Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said.
Schiavetta said they believe Lovett and Sanderson were killed between the evening of April 16 and April 17, with their bodies transported by the suspect to the Grizzly Creek area in Kananaskis Country between April 17 to 20.
“We believe the suspect and Jasmine were in a relationship and this was a targeted attack motivated by domestic-related matters,” Schiavetta said during a May 6 press conference.
The search in Kananaskis was officially concluded on May 8 with CPS thanking RCMP and Alberta Parks Fish and Wildlife for assisting and ensuring the safety of investigators due to “bear activity in the area.”