“Our lives have been devastated and our hearts are heavy," the family said in a statement
The bodies of a Canadian mother and her 22-month-old daughter were found Monday in a heavily wooded area three weeks after they disappeared from their home.
The Calgary Police Service said Jasmine Lovett and her 22-month-old daughter Aliyah Sanderson were discovered off a highway in Kananaskis.
On Tuesday, police charged 34-year-old Robert Leeming with two counts of second-degree murder.
At a press conference Monday, Calgary police Staff Sgt. Martin Schiavetta said the killing was a “targeted attack motivated by domestic-related matters,” adding, “It was a domestic relationship that deteriorated over time.”
The cause of death of mother and daughter has not yet been announced. An autopsy is pending.
Lovett and her daughter were reported missing after they never showed up to a family gathering on April 23, according to the Vancouver Sun. Police said they were last seen at the home they shared with Leeming on April 16.
Police believe the mother and daughter were killed sometime in the evening of April 16 or the early morning hours of April 17 and then transported to Kananaskis between April 17 and April 20.
Authorities searched the Kananaskis area but had to stop due to significant snow falls.
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Police took Leeming into custody for questioning on April 25. While he was later released, he was subsequently taken into custody again and charged.
He is scheduled to appear in court on May 14.
During the press conference, Schiavetta wouldn’t say what led them to the area where they found the bodies but said the investigation “picked up momentum in the last few days.”
In a statement, the Lovett family thanked Calgary police “as well as those who have worked diligently in the search for Jasmine and her baby girl Aliyah.”
“We would also like to thank the public for their continued support which has meant a great deal to us,” the statement reads. “Our lives have been devastated and our hearts are heavy. We are trying to understand how this tragedy could have happened to our loved ones.”
Anyone with information about the homicides are asked to Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477 or online at www.calgarycrimestoppers.org.
If you suspect domestic violence, call the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233, or go to thehotline.org. All calls are toll-free and confidential. The hotline is available 24/7 in more than 170 languages.