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EXCLUSIVE: Vanessa Higgins on the shock of discovering her daughter’s fiancé is the main suspect in her death

WATCH ABOVE: Vanessa Higgins opens up about finding out her daughter’s fiancé is the main suspect in her killing, and how she broke the news to her granddaughter. Global’s Kelly Greig reports.

MONTREAL – Vanessa Higgins hasn’t been able to eat or sleep since last week.

For the first time since Nicholas Fontanelli was arrested for murdering her daughter, Higgins is speaking out on the devastating loss of her eldest child and the shock at finding out that Fontanelli, her daughter’s fiancé, is the prime suspect.

“It was extremely hard to believe, but I really had no choice to believe it,” she told Global News.

“I just wanted to find out who did this to her, to me, to my family. It was devastation.”

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Samantha Higgins, 22, was reported missing on Tuesday, July 7.

Just a few days later, her body was found dismembered and stuffed in a plastic bag in a river in Hinchinbrooke, Quebec.

Samantha Higgins, 22, was reported missing July 7, 2015. Her body was found in a river Hinchinbrooke on Thursday, July 9, 2015.
Samantha Higgins, 22, was reported missing July 7, 2015. Her body was found in a river Hinchinbrooke on Thursday, July 9, 2015. FindingSamantha.com

“It’s so hard to not hear from her every day,” Higgins told Global News.

“It’s so hard to not hear her voice and her just showing up at my door without asking.”

“I’m just going to miss everything about her…her face. I’m so sad that somebody thought they had the right to take her away.”

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Fontanelli, 22, has been charged with first degree murder and committing an indignity to a body.

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Nicholas Fontanelli hides from photographers as he arrives at the courthouse to be charged with first-degree murder of his fiancee, Samantha Higgins, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in Montreal.
Nicholas Fontanelli hides from photographers as he arrives at the courthouse to be charged with first-degree murder of his fiancee, Samantha Higgins, Tuesday, July 14, 2015 in Montreal. Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press

Vanessa Higgins talked to Global News about her feelings for Fontanelli before he became the prime suspect.

“I loved him.”

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“I felt very bad for him and I just wanted to console him through this tough time,” she said.

“I was in denial, but the police know their job and if they say it’s him, it’s him.”

Samantha Higgins leaves behind two young children, 11-week-old Lorenzo and four-year-old Anna.

Fontanelli is the father of both.

Vanessa Higgins was left with the harrowing task of telling a 4-year-old that her mother is never coming home.

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“She [Anna] just wants to know why and I told her right now we don’t know why,” said Higgins.
Candles left behind after a vigil for Samantha Higgins, 22, who was found murdered on Friday, July 10, 2015.
Candles left behind after a vigil for Samantha Higgins, 22, who was found murdered on Thursday, July 9, 2015. Martin Hazel/Global News

Anna celebrated her fourth birthday July 15 without her parents.

“I explained to her that her mum is in heaven,” said Higgins.

“When it’s nighttime I’m going to take her out and look at the stars and that’s where she is and she can go there and talk to her anytime she wants.”

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Vanessa Higgins sits with friends at family at the McDonald's in Lasalle on Thursday, July 16, 2015.
Vanessa Higgins sits with friends at family at the McDonald’s in Lasalle on Thursday, July 16, 2015. Martin Hazel/Global News

Vanessa Higgins said she’s not ready to say good-bye to her daughter, but said she’s grateful to everyone who has helped the family.

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“It’s nice to know there’s still loving human beings out there and not just hateful, pathetic ones,” she said.

“I just wish that my time with my daughter was longer.”

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The funeral for Samantha Higgins is Saturday, July 18 at 2630 Notre-Dame street Ouest.

*interview and with files from Global’s Kelly Greig.

rachel.lau@globalnews.ca

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