Mother of slain toddler gives statement at triple-murder sentencing

Derek Saretzky will receive an automatic life sentence in the killing of three people in 2015

  • Jun. 29, 2017 7:30 a.m.

The loss of her child has torn her life apart, Cheyenne Dunbar told a courtroom Thursday, during Derek Saretzky’s triple-murder sentencing hearing.

It took a Lethbridge, Alta, jury less than three hours on Wednesday to find the 24-year old guilty in the 2015 deaths of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar, her father Terry Blanchette, 27, and 69-year-old Hanne Meketech, in the community of Crowsnest Pass, Alta.

He was also found guilty of performing an indignity to Hailey’s body.

In Dunbar’s victim impact statement, read by Crown prosecutor Photini Papadatou, she said she struggles with anxiety and depression.

“She was my world and my everything to me,” Dunbar wrote. “They say time heals all wounds, I’m here to tell you it doesn’t.”

“Being a mother was a blessing that was stolen from me.”

A number of other family members of the three victims made statements.

Saretzky will receive an automatic life sentence. It has yet to be determined whether he will be eligible for parole in 25, 50 or 75 years.

Crown prosecutor Michael Fox said Saretzky should not be allowed to apply for parole for 75 years, based on the brutal nature of the crimes and the recommendations of the jury.

“(Hailey) was the ultimate target,” he said. “We have moral culpability at the highest level. We have acts that show a level of callousness and disregard for human life, which defies comparison to any other case that I’ve been able to find.”

“The victims here were mere pawns of Mr. Saretzky’s thrill seeking, I don’t know how else to describe it, and his unspeakable violence,” he said.

Citing confessions to RCMP Staff Sgt. Mike McCauley, where Saretzky said the killing of the senior citizen was a rehearsal for the slaying of the toddler and her father, Fox urged the court to impose the maximum punishment.

“He was describing what he did,” said Fox. “There was planning, there was practice.”

Meketech was found deceased in her home in Coleman on Sept. 9, 2015.

Blanchette was found dead in his home on Sept. 14 that year. The RCMP issued an Amber Alert for Hailey that spanned three provinces and the U.S. state of Montana.

Her remains were discovered the next day in a rural part of the Crowsnest Pass community of Blairmore.

In a video-recorded confession, Saretzky led police to Hailey’s remains where he described starting a fire with books and bits of wood before strangling the little girl and burning her body.

RELATED: Disturbing video confessions played at trial

“So you choked her here,” asks McCauley.

“Yeah,” replies Saretzky.

The video showed Saretzky explaining how he said a prayer for Hailey after burning her body.

“What kind of prayer?” asks McCauley.

“May God rest your soul, something… I don’t know exactly what it is, but something along those lines,” he says.

Defence lawyer Patrick Edgerton said he would submit his arguments in July. Saretzky will be sentenced on Aug. 9.

Just Posted

Rediscovery co-founder Thom Henley returns to Haida Gwaii with new memoir

Henley to speak in Old Massett Thursday night and in Queen Charlotte on Friday

Overnight fire destroys home in Tlell

Tlell firefighters are having a busy year

Crime Stoppers launches across Haida Gwaii

They aren’t the police, and they don’t want to know who you… Continue reading

Queen Charlotte set for first election contest since 2011

Candidates Alan Moore and Devin Rachar to join a friendly debate Thursday night at Junebug Café

Fentanyl crisis reaches Haida Gwaii

Leaders respond after one person nearly dies from Haida Gwaii’s first suspected fentanyl overdose

100,000 bulbs shine bright for Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital in Vancouver launched its annual campaign to raise funds for equipment, research

Pine beetles from Jasper National Park moving into commercial forest

In 2014, beetle activity went from a few spots around Jasper’s townsite to rampant

VIDEO: Tragically Hip members, Alex Trebek receive Order of Canada

Newest recipients join 6,897 Canadians such as Christine Sinclair, Graham Greene and Mark Messier

AC/DC’s Malcolm Young dies at 64

‘Malcolm was a songwriter, guitarist, performer, producer and visionary who inspired many.’

‘I will now live in consistent fear’: Allan Schoenborn granted escorted leaves

The Merritt man was deemed not criminally responsible in the killing of his three children in 2008

Hammy the deer dodges conservation officers in Prince Rupert

The famous Prince Rupert hammock deer maintains his purple threads

‘No shirt, no service, no Canada’

Shirtless Tacoma man arrested after Canadian border officials say they found meth in rental vehicle

Nasty note on B.C. windshield sparks online outrage

Vernon’s Bailey McDonald is using a painful experience to start conversation about invisible illness

Federal funding to combat guns, gangs and opioid crisis

Public Safety Minister Ralph Goodale said illicit drugs are often main cause of guns, gangs violence

Most Read