CALGARY – Distraught family members are pleading for the safe return of a five-year-old Calgary girl whose mother was found dead in the basement suite where the two lived.
Scott Hamilton, uncle of the slain woman, is asking that Taliyah Leigh Marsman be dropped off at a police station, a grocery story, a gas station – or anywhere else. He says the family will pick her up and no questions will be asked.
Police issued an Amber Alert overnight for the girl. She is described as a mixed-race child with a slim build, brown curly hair and blue eyes.
Hamilton says the child’s mother, Sara Baillie, was pretty much single-handedly raising Taliyah, who the family described as more mature than her five years.
He said a deep bond existed between mother and child.
“Inseparable,” Hamilton said of the two. “Taliyah referred to Sara as Mama and it wasn’t necessarily like a mother-daughter relationship. It was almost like watching two sisters at times get along.
“Sara worshipped Taliyah. The times that we saw them interact was marvellous. It was a very awesome relationship to see between a mother and daughter.”
Hamilton described Taliyah as “a vivacious, wonderful child, curious.”
She liked playing on her iPad and Hamilton’s wife, Marilynne, had recently taught Taliyah to ride a bicycle.
“The bicycle sits in our garage waiting for her to come back,” he said, his voice breaking.
Police said they aren’t ruling anything out in their search, including the possibility that Taliyah was dropped off with someone who has yet to realize the girl is the subject of an Amber Alert.
“We have all the faith in the world that Taliyah will be found safe. Somebody who knows where she is, is going to step up and do the right thing,” Insp. Don Coleman said following the family’s news conference Tuesday.
Coleman said family members last saw the girl Sunday morning. They became concerned when Baillie, who had a full-time job at the Calgary airport Chili’s, didn’t show up at work. So they went to her home, a basement suite in a quiet northwest neighbourhood, on Monday evening to check on her.
“She wasn’t there. Neither was Taliyah,” Coleman said.
There were no signs of forced entry. Police were called and the officers found Baillie’s body.
Taliyah’s father is estranged from her mother, Coleman said.
“We’ve spoken with him. He is co-operating with the investigation.”
Coleman said the couple was known to police.
“There is limited domestic history both reported and unreported,” he said. “Domestic violence.”
Court documents show Baillie was the complainant in a case with a man identified as Colin Evan Marsman.
Justice officials say Marsman, who turns 37 on Wednesday, was charged with unlawful confinement and intimidation by threats on Feb. 1, 2015. But the charges were withdrawn March 2. A peace bond was issued on that same day.
The man who owns the house where Baillie lived said she and her daughter moved into his suite May 1 and were good tenants.
“No stress. No problems,” Olumuyiwa Dada said.
Yellow police tape blocked off the stairway down to the suite’s entrance at the back of the house Tuesday.
“I’m really feeling down because I only see things like this on the TV,” he said. “I don’t really understand what is happening myself. I’m really in shock.”
Baillie’s car was found not far from the home. It was seized by forensic investigators.
Coleman said he is not convinced a stranger was involved in the child’s disappearance.
“That’s all part of the witness interviews and interviewing family to try and figure out who may have been coming and going from the residence, any relationships that she may have had. There is a whole host of investigative avenues to cover off in a short period of time,” he said.
“Our primary focus is the safe return of Taliyah.”