Update: The Amber Alert for Taliyah Leigh Marsman has been cancelled after a body was located
The suspect arrested by Calgary police in connection with the disappearance of five-year-old Taliyah Leigh Marsman is offering “zero cooperation,” investigators said Thursday, as a huge search continued just east of the city.
Marsman has been the focus of an Amber Alert since Monday, after her mother, 34-year-old Sara Baillie, was found dead in the basement suite the pair shared in the northwest Calgary community of Panorama Hills.
Police said the suspect, who is in his mid 30s or early 40s, was known to both Baillie and Marsman’s father, Colin, as well as to police.
“He has an extensive criminal history,” Insp. Don Coleman said. He also confirmed the suspect is known to be violent. “I believe his background would probably have some of that in it, yeah.”
Investigators plan to search the man’s home, and forensics officers are processing his vehicle.
He was arrested Wednesday evening after police spotted the grey sedan he was driving in northeast Calgary. Officers pulled him over and arrested him at a strip mall at 32 Avenue NE at 32 Street.
The vehicle was spotted by witnesses Monday around 11:30 a.m., when a black man and a young girl matching Marsman’s description were seen getting from Baillie’s car into the grey sedan.
Police said the sedan was also briefly in the area where the searches are now taking place. But so far, the suspect in custody is not talking to police, while the little girl has been missing for over 48 hours.
“It’s incredibly frustrating, but fortunately the investigators involved are all professionals, and they do this for a living — it’s their thing,” Coleman said. “It’s managed in a very professional manner and the complete focus is on moving this ahead.”
WATCH BELOW: Aerial footage of grid search near Chestermere Thursday morning
Police set up a staging area at the Delacour community hall, northeast of Chestermere, and fanned out in farmers’ fields in the area, hours after the unidentified man was taken for questioning.
Some area residents also began searching on their own land.
As of 3:30 p.m. Thursday, the search was still on-going. Police said the only object of interest they have found is a stuffed animal, but they didn’t know if it was connected to the case. Dozens of officers are combing the rural area, but so far, Search and Rescue volunteers have not been brought in.
“Information that comes to light through several investigative strategies led us to believe that this individual was briefly in that area,” Coleman said at the police briefing. “We’ve searched other premises in the last few days. This rural area is no different.”
The inspector acknowledged that the rural search “does have a more ominous tone to it” but added it shouldn’t be viewed negatively. “We’ve searched three or four houses for Taliyah since the outset of the investigation,” he said. “This is different only by virtue of the fact it’s a large outdoor area … We’re looking for anything that might be related to this investigation.”
Police said grid searches would continue until managers were confident the area was thoroughly searched.
An Amber Alert was issued for Marsman just after 1:40 a.m. Tuesday, after her mother Sara Baillie was found dead in their basement suite in Panorama the day before.
It is still in effect and Coleman says police still expect to find Taliyah alive.
“There has been nothing to indicate the status of that has changed … Our thoughts and opinions have never changed.”
With files from The Canadian Press