The search for Taliyah Leigh Marsman, the subject of an Alberta-wide Amber Alert, came to a heart-breaking end Thursday after Calgary police found her body, shattering her family, the community and police officers involved in the investigation.
“We are very saddened to be announcing today that we believe we have found the body of five-year-old Taliyah Marsman,” Calgary Police Chief Roger Chaffin said during an emotional news conference Thursday night. “Over the last 72 hours we’ve had approximately 100 officers at times working around the clock to find young Taliyah.
“They are completely devastated by the loss, as am I,” he said.
WATCH: Calgary police believe they have found body of Taliyah Marsman
Calgary police charged 46-year-old Edward Delten Downey with two counts of first-degree murder in connection with the deaths of Taliyah Marsman and her mother, Sara Baillie, who was found earlier this week.
When high-profile missing persons cases end with tragic results, the effect can have a particularly distressing impact on the officers involved, says Dave Perry, a security expert with Investigative Solutions.
“There are dozens if not hundreds of police officers who are devastated this morning as the rest of the community is,” Perry told Global’s the Morning Show. “I can see it in the faces of the officers that were doing the press conferences.”
WATCH: Explains next steps in Taliyah Marsman investigation
Inspector Don Coleman with Calgary Police Services provided daily updates on Marsman’s disappearance since an amber alert was issued early Tuesday morning.
“It’s disappointing for sure,” Coleman told reporters Thursday. “We were hoping for a different outcome and worked hard for that outcome. The family is devastated clearly.”
He added that based on the investigation it’s believed Taliyah was already dead by the time police had been called by concerned family members.
Perry, a former Toronto police officer with nearly three decades of experience, said investigations involving the abduction of children can take an physical and emotional toll on police.
“It’s exhausting work they probably have had two or maybe three hours sleep for the past several nights, all of them working very diligently in the hope of returning Taliyah safely to the rest of her family,” Perry said.
“And when that doesn’t happen it is devastating.”
The Marsman case evoked memories of last year’s murder of Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, another Amber Alert that captured nation-wide attention and ended tragically.
The executive director of the Tema Conter Memorial Trust, an organization that works to raise awareness of the mental health concerns faced by first responders, said these type of crimes are extremely “morally repugnant” for first responders.
“These are the types of calls where you start asking yourself ‘why do bad things always happen to good people?’” said Tema executive director Vince Savoia, “There is no rhyme or reason behind it and it becomes very senseless.”
“When they come across this sort of tragedy it just shatters their world.”
Savoia said these sorts of investigations can be especially difficult for police and other first-responders with kids.
“Police officers may become more vigilant about the safety of their own children,” he said.
Savoia, a former paramedic and emergency medical dispatcher, remembers after years of responding to emergencies he became increasingly concerned about the safety of his own children.
“At times you can actually push your children away and even alienate them.”
WATCH: Trudeau comments on murder of Calgary 5-year-old
The Tema website provides several resources for research, and training, as well as a peer and psychological support Canada’s emergency personnel.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said all of Canada shares in Calgary’s grief as the city mourns the loss of the five-year-old
“She was a beautiful child, as are all children, with a full and promising life ahead of her,” Trudeau said Friday, speaking to reporters ahead of the Stampede. “I know there were a lot of hearts broken when the news came out and there were so many volunteers and police services involved in trying to help a terrible situation that we all need to take a moment to send our love and hearts out to Taliyah and Sara’s family.”