EDMONTON – A 22-year-old Alberta man has been charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette and her 27-year-old father, Terry Blanchette.
The RCMP believe Derek Saretzky planned the murders of Hailey and her father. Police said Saretzky was an acquaintance of Blanchette.
READ MORE: What we know about Derek Saretzky
“We’re still exploring those connections, but at this point and time they were known to each other. That’s about all we can say to protect the investigative process,” said Insp. Derek Williams, Alberta RCMP Major Crimes.
Saretzky was also charged with one count of committing an indignity to a human body. RCMP said he was arrested Tuesday in the Blairmore, Alta. area without incident. He’s scheduled to appear in Lethbridge Provincial Court on Sept. 23.
Police haven’t confirmed whether they’re looking for any other suspects in the murders.
“There’s a number of people involved in the investigation as a witness or otherwise,” said Williams. “We interviewed a number of people and obviously we’ve interviewed the mother.”
Hailey’s mother, Cheyenne Dunbar, said she and Saretzky were friends, but haven’t been in touch for years.
“We were just close friends and I haven’t talked to him in three years. I haven’t talked to him at all. I haven’t talked to anybody here. I live in Edmonton.”
Watch below: Two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette’s mother, 20-year-old Cheyenne Dunbar, spoke to reporters Wednesday after charges were laid in the murder of her little girl and her father.
Dunbar called Hailey the “greatest child ever” and “perfect” and said she doesn’t know why anyone would hurt her daughter. The 20-year-old also said Blanchette was an “awesome father” and added she and Blanchette had a good relationship, despite no longer being a couple.
“We weren’t together but we were on very good talking terms. We talked about everything. He called me, texted me, sent pictures, I sent pictures; it was always back and forth between us.”
Police said the investigation into the two murders is continuing.
“We are in the Blairmore area conducting a number of searches for evidence as part of the investigative process,” said Williams.
Blanchette’s body was found inside the family home in Blairmore, Alta. Monday morning.
RCMP said they found Hailey’s body in a rural area near Blairmore Tuesday afternoon.
“Police were searching the location based on information received during the course of the missing person investigation into Hailey’s disappearance,” said RCMP Supt. Tony Hamori. “The scene has been secured and will be released upon completion of the investigative work now underway at that location.”
WATCH: Kevin Dunbar, grandfather of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette spoke fondly of his granddaughter in Blairmore Wednesday.
Police located a white van they believe was the same vehicle reportedly seen leaving the Blanchette home Monday morning. Police said the van was an important piece in their investigation, and generated a number of tips in Alberta and across Canada.
“The white van that was on the original Amber Alert is the van now that we believe we have, and that we had seized on Tuesday,” said RCMP Cpl. Sharon Franks.
RCMP also credited the Amber Alert system with their investigation.
“The Amber Alert program is a critical tool when it’s established a missing child may be vulnerable to harm. In this case it took us only three hours to establish that this may be the case with Hailey,” said Hamori.
Police are asking anyone with information on the murders to contact the Crowsnest RCMP Detachment at 403-562-2866 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS .
Watch below: Video coverage of the abduction and death of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, and murder of her father
With files from Nancy Hixt