As family and friends of Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson — believed to have been murdered in April — continue to grapple with the loss, they say they were “disheartened” to find apparently illegitimate online fundraisers attempting to raise money for the families.
Dana Burrows, a close family friend of Lovett’s mother, Kim, set up a GoFundMe campaign earlier this month with the aim of raising enough money to cover the costs of the memorial services for the two young homicide victims.
The bodies of Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter were found on Monday in the Grizzly Creek area of Kananaskis Country, about 80 kilometres west of the city. The pair was reported missing on April 23 when they didn’t come to a family dinner. Police charged 34-year-old Robert Leeming with second-degree murder in both their deaths. Investigators believe they were killed on either April 16 or 17.
In an interview with Global News on Thursday, Burrows said news of their deaths “came as an enormous shock” to Kim, who she said raised both girls.
Burrows said she set up the GoFundMe to take some of the burdens away, trying to relieve her friend of the reality of bills and ensuring her loved ones would have a proper burial, while she grieved.
When she found a second GoFundMe page online which had taken their photos and claimed to also be raising money for Lovett and Sanderson, she was irritated more than anything.
“I contacted him and said, ‘You need to take the name of the Lovett family down for sure, because you are not helping,'” Burrows said. “And I said, ‘If you want to make arrangements to help pay for the funeral and memorial services, I’m more than happy to work with you,’ and I didn’t get a response.”
WATCH: Calgary community commemorates Jasmine Lovett and Aliyah Sanderson after bodies identified. Jenna Freeman reports.
The second two fundraisers, one on GoFundMe and one on Facebook, were set up by Tyler Giglia, a friend of Aliyah Sanderson’s father, Robbie.
Giglia told Global News he set the fundraisers up “out of the goodness of my heart.”
However, Burrows said neither the Lovett or Sanderson families had been in touch with Giglia about the fundraisers or anything else.
“She doesn’t know him and, as a matter of fact the Sanderson family has reached out as well — not Robbie, so I don’t know if Robbie Sanderson and this gentleman are working together or this gentleman is working on his own, I don’t actually know.
“But I know that the other Sandersons have reached out and said that they have nothing to do with this. And that they’ve been telling everyone to only donate to our page.”
Giglia told Global News on Thursday both his accounts had been removed.
A spokesperson with GoFundMe said Burrows’ campaign was verified and the fundraising company was helping ensure the funds raised were going to the right place. It also confirmed that the other campaign was removed and all the donors were refunded.
Burrows said even if the person behind the other fundraisers had good intentions, “he went about it in the wrong way.”
She went on to say that any money raised over and above the costs of the memorial services will be donated to Calgary’s emergency women’s’ shelter. They’re also hoping to start a non-profit for victims of domestic violence in Lovett’s name.
Burrows also thanked the community, which has come together in support of the grieving families with, raising money which she said will all eventually go toward the GoFundMe.
— With files from Global News’ Jenna Freeman