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Robert Leeming charged with second-degree murders of Jasmine Lovett, Aliyah Sanderson

Charges laid in double homicide of Calgary mom and daughter
WATCH: As Michael King reports, Calgary police confirmed Tuesday that the bodies found in Kananaskis are those of Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson. 

Calgary police have officially charged 34-year-old Robert Leeming with the murder of Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter Aliyah Sanderson.

Lovett, 25, and Sanderson were reported missing after they didn’t show up to a family dinner on Tuesday, April 23. They were last seen in the community of Cranston a week earlier on April 16.

Mother and daughter, Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson were reported missing on April 23, 2019.
Mother and daughter, Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson were reported missing on April 23, 2019. Courtesy: Calgary Police Service

Their disappearance was declared a suspected double-homicide on April 25, and Leeming was taken into police custody as officers searched his townhouse. He was then released without charges.

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Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson. Jenna Freeman, Global News
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson. Kevin Billo, Global News
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson. Kevin Billo, Global News
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson. Kevin Billo, Global News
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson.
Calgary police investigate at a house in the city's southeast neighbourhood of Cranston Thursday, April 25, 2019 in connection with the suspected homicides of 25-year-old Jasmine Lovett and 22-month-old Aliyah Sanderson. Kevin Billo, Global News

On Monday, police found the bodies of a woman and a child believed to be Lovett and Sanderson in a heavily wooded area near Grizzly Creek, off Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country.

The next day police said autopsies had confirmed the remains found belonged to Lovett and Sanderson. The cause of death of both victims is not expected to be released.

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Man charged in Calgary double homicide appears in court
Man charged in Calgary double homicide appears in court

Leeming said the young mother and daughter lived with him in his south Calgary home, and that he and Lovett were in an intimate relationship — but that she was not his girlfriend.

Leeming was again taken into police custody Monday night and escorted to the Calgary Police Service’s (CPS) arrest processing unit.

Robert Leeming is escorted by police to the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit on Monday, May 6, 2019.
Robert Leeming is escorted by police to the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit on Monday, May 6, 2019. Global News
Robert Leeming is escorted by police to the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit on Monday, May 6, 2019.
Robert Leeming is escorted by police to the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit on Monday, May 6, 2019. Global News
Robert Leeming is escorted by police to the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit on Monday, May 6, 2019.
Robert Leeming is escorted by police to the Calgary Police Service’s arrest processing unit on Monday, May 6, 2019. Global News

On Tuesday, He was officially charged with two counts of second-degree murder. He will remain in police custody until his next court appearance, which is scheduled for May 14.

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Leeming’s defence lawyer Balfour Der spoke to media outside the Calgary Courts Centre, saying this is a “highly stressful” time for his client.

“Today was just the initial appearance so we had the matter put over a week so we could have a chance to meet with Mr. Leeming, get some preliminary details – if we can – from the prosecutor’s office and determine the next steps,” Der said.

“There is family support for him, clearly. The family has been in touch with us, but his family doesn’t live in Canada.”

In a police news conference on Monday, Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said police believe Lovett and Sanderson were killed sometime between Tuesday, April 16 and Wednesday, April 17.

“We believe their bodies were subsequently transported by the suspect to the Grizzly Creek area sometime between Wednesday, April 17 and Saturday, April 20,” Schiavetta said.

“We believe the suspect and Jasmine were in a relationship and this was a targeted attack motivated by domestic-related matters.”

Schiavetta said it’s believed the suspect and Lovett’s relationship “deteriorated over time.”

WATCH: A day after the bodies of Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson were found in the woods of Kananaskis Country, police continue their search for evidence. Lauren Pullen reports.

Police continue search in Kananaskis where bodies of Jasmine Lovett, Aliyah Sanderson were found
Police continue search in Kananaskis where bodies of Jasmine Lovett, Aliyah Sanderson were found

Calgary police said officers remained on scene in the Grizzly Creek area of Kananaskis country on Tuesday searching for evidence. On Wednesday, police announced the search of Kananaskis had concluded.

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Statement from Sanderson family

In a statement sent to Global News via email, the Sanderson family said their “hearts are heavy” as they begin to piece back together their lives without two amazing people who were taken too soon.

“We love and adore Jasmine and Aliyah, we are completely devastated,” the statement read.

“We want to thank the Calgary police again and everyone who contributed to the search for Aliyah and Jasmine. Thank you to the investigators who worked diligently around the clock and Global News for treating our family with the utmost respect during such a difficult time.”

“We are hoping for justice for our families, for Jasmine and for Aliyah.“

24-hour help for family or domestic violence victims

If you or someone you know is experiencing family or domestic violence, call 911 if there is immediate danger. Alberta’s Family Violence Information Line can be reached at 310-1818, to get help anonymously in more than 170 languages.

WATCH: Purple ribbons adorned the Calgary community of Cranston on Tuesday where mother Jasmine Lovett and daughter Aliyah Sanderson were living before they disappeared in April. As Jenna Freeman reports, the colours are meant to remember the pair and also raise awareness about domestic violence.

Calgary community commemorates Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson after bodies identified
Calgary community commemorates Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson after bodies identified

– With files from Jenna Freeman and Jill Croteau

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