UPDATE: Alberta man charged in murders of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and Terry Blanchette. Click here for details.
EDMONTON — A candlelight vigil meant to lend hope and support in the search for a missing two-year-old girl in dissolved in grief Tuesday night, as RCMP informed the crowd in Blairmore, Alta. that investigators had discovered the remains of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette.
As an official with victims services made the tragic announcement, one young woman crashed into a friend’s arms and sobbed. Others sniffed quietly and wiped away tears.
RCMP said they found the toddler’s body in a rural area near Blairmore. They also announced Tuesday night the Amber Alert, which was issued shortly after 2 p.m. MT Monday, had been dropped.
“The RCMP extends its deepest condolences to Hailey’s family. This is a sad day for the citizens of Blairmore and all Canadians who have held this little girl in their thoughts and prayers since Monday,” said RCMP Supt. Tony Hamori.
“Our goal now is to complete the investigation into Hailey’s death and the death of her father, Terry.”
WATCH: Full news conference held by RCMP Tuesday night
The RCMP said earlier Tuesday they took a 22-year-old man into custody in relation to the girl’s disappearance. He was also a suspect in the death of the girl’s father, 27-year-old Terry Blanchette, whose body was found inside the family home.
RCMP said the man remained in custody Tuesday night for questioning and charges were pending.
“Police will provide the identity of the suspect after charges are laid in these matters,” said Hamori.
The mayor of Crowsnest Pass said his heart goes out to the little girl’s family.
“This is obviously not the outcome our community was hoping for. This is going to devastate our community and it’s going to take us a long time to heal from this,” said Mayor Blair Painter.
“It’s heartbreaking, devastating news to hear this right now.”
Hailey’s godmother described the little girl as “the most energetic kid you’d ever see.”
“She’s running, she’s laughing, she does a scrunchy-face…she scrunches up her nose and gets so excited,” said Rebecca Harrington, who said she’s close with both sides of the family.
RCMP are no longer looking for the public’s assistance in locating the white van that was seen near the Blairmore home early Monday morning.
The RCMP will provide another update on the investigation at 10 a.m. Wednesday.
Watch below: Video coverage of the abduction and death of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, and murder of her father
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