UPDATE: First-degree murder charges in Loretta Saunders case

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By Alison Auld
HALIFAX — Halifax police charged a man and woman with first-degree murder Thursday in the death of Loretta Saunders, a university student whose body was found a day earlier on the side of a highway in New Brunswick.

This photo of Loretta Saunders, a Newfoundland native reported missing in Halifax, is on a Facebook group created in an effort to find her. https://www.facebook.com/groups/256418714519300/photos/

Police say Victoria Henneberry, 28, and Blake Leggette, 25, will face the charges in Halifax provincial court Friday.

Supt. Jim Perrin of Halifax Regional Police said police believe Saunders was killed in the city on the day she was last seen on Feb. 13.

“I can’t get into the evidence because now the case is before the courts. For first-degree murder there has to be some planning to the crime and our investigators are satisfied that existed and that’s why the appropriate charges were laid today,” he said.

“What led the investigators to laying charges today is the totality of evidence from the time the case was reported to the last several days,”

Perrin wouldn’t give any details of how Saunders died.

He said Saunders was once a roommate of Henneberry’s and Leggette’s.

“I can’t imagine what a tragic event this is for Ms. Saunders family and friends and we’re glad we’re able to bring this to some sort of conclusion quickly,” Perrin said.

Henneberry and Leggette were charged earlier with stealing Saunders’s 2000 Toyota Celica, which was found Feb. 18 in Harrow, Ont., south of Windsor.

Saunders’s remains were found at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the median off Route 2 of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Moncton, N.B. The 26-year-old Saint Mary’s University student was last seen on the morning of Feb. 13 in the Cowie Hill Road area of Halifax.

Delilah Terriak, Saunders’s sister, said the family had no comment on the development.

The murder charges came hours after Henneberry was brought to court for a bail hearing on the theft charge. The matter was adjourned to give lawyers more time to review the case.

Defence lawyer Patrick MacEwen said outside court that the lawyers needed time since Henneberry had just arrived in Halifax late Tuesday after being arrested in Ontario days earlier. Halifax police said they spoke with her the next morning.

MacEwen had little to say about his client when asked how she was doing.

“She’s in the same shape as anyone in her predicament is — she’s in custody and I’m sure she doesn’t want to be there,” he said.

Some of Saunders’s friends and one of her brothers sat in the back of the courtroom for the brief hearing, but said nothing to reporters as they left the building.

Members of Saunders’s family travelled to Halifax to make public appeals for help in finding the young Inuit woman, who was originally from Labrador. Dozens of supporters papered the city with posters showing a smiling Saunders and her bright blue car.

Terriak, 21, has said her sister was set to graduate from university in May and was doing her thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

National Chief Shawn Atleo of the Assembly of First Nations said Saunders’s death brings focus on the need for a national commission of inquiry into missing and murdered aboriginal women.

“This is a call to action that this must end now,” he said in a statement. “We cannot add one more name to the list of murdered or missing women. We need to see action by all parties to end violence, to respect and honour women and families, to ensure our communities are safe and secure for all.”

Const. Pierre Bourdages of Halifax police said Saunders’s body was at the medical examiner’s office in Saint John, N.B., for an autopsy in the coming days. He said many pieces of information led police to the location close to the highway.

“The body was not found by a bystander, she wasn’t found by someone driving in the area,” he said. “The information that is before us helped us narrow down the area.”

At a news conference Tuesday, her boyfriend said he last saw Saunders as she was leaving his home to check on an apartment he said she was subletting to Leggette and Henneberry.

(Earlier story)

HALIFAX — Halifax police have charged a man and woman with murder in the death of Loretta Saunders, a university student whose body was found Wednesday on the side of a highway in New Brunswick.

Twenty-eight-year-old Victoria Henneberry and 25-year-old Blake Leggette face charges of first-degree murder and are scheduled to appear in Halifax provincial court Friday.

Henneberry and Leggette were charged earlier with stealing Saunders’s 2000 Toyota Celica, which was found Feb. 19 in Harrow, Ont., south of Windsor.

Saunders remains were found at about 4:30 p.m. Wednesday in the median off Route 2 of the Trans-Canada Highway west of Moncton, N.B.

The 26-year-old Saint Mary’s University student was last seen on the morning of Feb. 13 in the Cowie Hill Road area of the city.

Members of Saunders’s family travelled to Halifax to make public appeals for help in finding the young Inuit woman, who was originally from Labrador.

Delilah Terriak has said her sister was set to graduate from university in May and was doing her thesis on missing and murdered aboriginal women.

 

 

 

Geographic location: Halifax

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  • Martha
    February 27, 2014 - 16:41

    God save our children from the wrath of hell that dwells in some of us....