Loretta Saunders’ death is “truly a tragic loss,” a Halifax Regional Police spokesman said Wednesday, after her missing person case was ruled a homicide and the 26-year-old’s body was found in New Brunswick.
Saunders was found in the median off Route 2 of the Trans-Canada Highway near Salisbury around 4:30 p.m. by Halifax investigators and local RCMP.
“The entirety of the evidence in the case led us to make that determination,” said police spokesman Const. Pierre Bourdages, in reference to the case being labelled a homicide.
Forensic investigators from Halifax and New Brunswick RCMP retrieved her remains, and Bourdages said her body will be taken to Halifax where some of her siblings have been staying during their search.
“Everybody knows how much the family and friends here in Halifax came together and were attempting to locate Ms. Saunders and bring her back safely home,” Bourdages said. “It’s truly a tragic loss.”
Bourdages said Saunders’ family in Halifax and Labrador were notified in person about her homicide, and later when her body was found.
He said police have identified suspects in the homicide, and are not looking for anyone else. Bourdages said they can’t publicly name them until charges are laid, which will be “as soon as possible.”
Ontario police arrested Victoria Henneberry, 28, and Blake Leggette, 25, last week after they were found near Windsor, Ont. and charged with stealing Saunders’ car.
Both Leggette and Henneberry were brought to Halifax and remain in custody. They also face charges of fraud related to allegedly using Saunders’ debit card that will be handled by Ontario police.
They were reportedly renting an apartment on Cowie Hill Road from Saunders.
Henneberry is due in Halifax provincial court Thursday to face the vehicle charge, and Leggette will appear on Friday for a bail hearing after his case was set over by a judge Tuesday.
Saunders, a Saint Mary’s University student, hadn’t been seen since she left her Cowie Hill Road apartment on Feb.13, and was officially reported missing by her family a few days later.
She was an Inuk woman from Labrador, and in the last year of her honour’s sociology degree. Saunders was working on a thesis about missing and murdered Aboriginal women.