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

Alberta judge cleared in case where sex assault victim was shackled, jailed

Judicial council: Judge Raymond Bodnarek acted on Crown’s advice, tried to minimize victim’s hardship

Stettler Elementary getting school clubs up and running

Stettler Elementary Grade 4’s get to check out Smith’s igloo

Big Valley – A community to be thankful for

Big Valley blessed with choirs of ‘snow angels’

Judicial council finds no misconduct by Alberta judge of Aboriginal sex assault victim

Hearing after complaints of alleged poor treatment of woman with pseudonym Angela Cardinal

A Look Back – Stettler Independent Archive Files

Originally Submitted By: Margaret Connon and Mary-Jane Jackson Updated By: Landin Chambers

WATCH: Red Deer celebrates one year out from 2019 Canada Games

Community gathers at Great Chief Park to commemorate Games milestone

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

Concert-goers unfazed by Hedley sexual misconduct allegations

Frontman Jacob Hoggard thanked fans from the ‘bottom of our hearts’ at Halifax’s Scotiabank Centre

OLYMPICS 101: Oldest and youngest Canadians to reach the podium

This year, Canada sent its most athletes in Winter Games history, here’s a look at record breakers

Federal budget to unveil incentive for 5-week second parent leave: official

Goal behind the measure is to give parents more incentive to share child-rearing responsibilities

Notley says Alberta watching B.C. court bid closely, will get no free ride on it

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley ended the three-week ban on B.C. wine, calming the trade war

Trudeau ends troubled India trip in his comfort zone of hockey and youth

The players, 18-25, came to New Delhi from Ladakhi in northern India, as part of outreach program

Team Canada’s Dave Duncan apologizes after drunken joyride in Pyeongchang

Duncan, his wife Maja and Canadian technical coach William Raine detained by South Korean police

Stettler Regional Board of Trade announces 2018 Board of Directors

Matt Wall will serve as President for a second year

Most Read


Weekly delivery plus unlimited digital access for $50.40 for 52 issues (must live within 95 kilometers of Stettler) Unlimited Digital Access for one year for $50.40 Prefer to have us call you? Click here and we’ll get back to you within one business day.