UPDATE 9 P.M. MT Sept. 15: Remains of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette found, Amber Alert dropped
CALGARY — A frantic search continued early Tuesday for a missing two-year-old girl after her 27-year-old father was found dead of a suspected homicide inside a home in southwestern Alberta.
Crowsnest Pass RCMP issued an Amber Alert in connection with the abduction of a Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette on Monday morning.
Police said Hailey was taken in the town of Blairmore at 3:30 a.m.
The two-year-old is described as Caucasian with a small build, light brown, straight hair with bangs, and brown eyes.
Hailey was abducted by an unknown person. The Amber Alert extends from Alberta to include B.C., Saskatchewan and Montana.
During a news conference in Calgary late Monday afternoon, RCMP Superintendent Tony Hamori said the missing girl’s father, 27-year-old Terry Blanchette, was found dead in their Blairmore home.
Hamori said his death is being treated as a homicide.
“We could be dealing with a single suspect, or more than that. At this point in time we are open to all possibilities,” Hamori added.
RCMP said they have spoken with Hailey’s mother.
“We have been speaking to family members and we have spoken to Hailey’s mother and we have certainly confirmed Hailey is not with her.”
Hailey’s grandfather says the family is in a state of shock.
“Angry, sad. I don’t know what to feel. I have no idea how to take this – mad at a few people about some things and worried about my granddaughter,” Kevin Dunbar told Global News.
Dunbar said Hailey’s mother Cheyenne Dunbar is distraught.
“She was doing OK earlier, but she is starting to break down now. I’m very worried.” he added.
Police said the suspect vehicle left a Blairmore residence heading west at a high rate of speed. The vehicle is described as a newer model white van, with a large rear antenna and flag attached.
Hamori said police do not have a licence plate, make or model for the van, nor do they know what kind of antenna flag was on the van.
Extra police resources were being brought into the area, including tactical officers to secure the scene and a police helicopter to help with the search.
WATCH: RCMP have issued an Amber Alert for a missing 2-year-old girl in southwest Alberta.
Hamori did say there is no safety risk to the public, but added if the van is spotted that people should call police and not engage with anyone in the vehicle. Instead, contact the Crowsnest Pass RCMP 403-562-2866 if you have any information.
In the nearby town of Frank, Blanchette worked as a cook at the bar ‘Pure Country’. His co-workers are now mourning the loss of their friend. They say he would often bring his daughter in to work. They now hold out hope for Hailey’s safe return.
“She has light brown hair but the biggest brown eyes. I just saw them on Friday at the grocery store, she was dictating what went into her daddy’s grocery cart. She was life. She was just so full of it,” Jenness Shortreed said.
Monday was his day off, said manager Tammy Tracey.
“He was a good worker and a good father. He did anything for his daughter, he loved her dearly. He was a good dad. He lived for her.”
Tracey said Blanchette had worked at the bar for the last three years.
“He would never miss a day of work, he had to support a daughter. He was a good kid. He had responsibilities, right?”
Family friend Corette Harrington confirmed that, calling Blanchette an exemplary single father.
“He loved Hailey very much and everything he did, he did for Hailey. He was an incredible dad. He worked hard for her.”
She explained that Blanchette and Dunbar, who was his former girlfriend, amicably shared custody of their little girl.
“She lived with her dad full-time, and every few weeks would visit her mom in Edmonton,” she explained, adding that the little girl would often stay with Blanchette’s father in Elkford while he was at work.
The abduction and suspected homicide has left residents shaken.
“There’s been four deaths in the last month here. And everyone says move to a small town, it’s so safe. Well it doesn’t seem that safe anymore,” Corrine Corne said.
Blairmore is about 220 kilometres southwest of Calgary in the Crowsnest Pass area near the B.C.-Alberta boundary.
With files from The Canadian Press