LETHBRIDGE – “The devil made me turn her into ashes.”
Derek Saretzky made those comments in a video statement recorded with the RCMP on Sept. 15, 2015, moments before bursting into tears. He then detailed how he kidnapped and killed two-year old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, after saying he killed her father, 27-year old Terry Blanchette.
The comments came after an hour of questioning from Staff Sgt. Michael McCauley – a specialist in challenging interviews and interrogations – as he pushed Saretzky to reveal the location of the toddler, who had been abducted from her Blairmore home.
An Amber Alert was issued for Hailey on Sept. 14, after the body of her father was discovered in a blood-soaked bathroom in their house.
Saretzky is accused in their deaths, as well as the murder of 69-year old Hanne Meketech just a few days earlier.
The interview started with McCauley making small talk with Saretzky, discussing their families and the surrounding area. McCauley then asked Saretzky about comments he made earlier that day to other officers during his arrest, in which he suggested God was responsible for Hailey being in heaven, and that he had stopped taking Seroquel – an antipsychotic medication – which he said he had been on to help him sleep.
Saretzky said he had stopped taking the medication a few months earlier, adding, “Everything’s been a real blur since then.”
McCauley then asked about something Saretzky’s father had said about talking to the devil.
“[The devil] takes control of me sometimes and I don’t know how or why,” Saretzky replied.
“It all started when I was in school,” Saretzky continued speaking of voices and hallucinations, saying he had been bullied a lot and that he didn’t have many friends.
He said that he had dated Cheyenne Dunbar, Hailey’s mother, after Hailey was born, but that he ended the relationship when he chose a friend over her. McCauley asked if Saretzky felt like Hailey’s step-dad, to which he responded, “Kinda I guess.”
As McCauley directed the conversation to the murder of Blanchette, Saretzky said, “I don’t even remember going to Terry’s house,” then saying, “God did it, not me. God did it himself.”
While remaining calm and telling Saretzky that he believed he was under the control of a demon, McCauley started to press for Hailey’s location, saying they needed to find her, even if she was dead.
After continuing to deny that he played any role, Saretzky finally broke down, telling McCauley that he burned the child’s body in a fire-pit at a campsite just outside of town.
(WARNING: The video shown below contains graphic content. Viewer discretion is strongly advised.)
McCauley then began to question Saretzky more on how he had killed Hailey.
Saretzky explained that he drove Hailey out to the campsite, then left her in the van for two or three hours while he built the fire up. Once it was big enough, he said he killed her.
“I choked her,” Saretzky stated, and when asked whether she suffered, he said, “A little bit.” He added later, “I choked her as quick as I could.”
After she was dead, Saretzky said he cut off her head and limbs, before turning to cannibalism.
“I ate a little bit of her heart,” he told McCauley. “It made me stronger, for a bit, just a little bit.
“I drained her blood, I drank most of it.”
With McCauley asking him to explain how he killed Blanchette, Saretzky said he parked his van in the driveway of a house near Blanchette’s home, then went in through a side door that had been left open.
“He was laying in bed,” Saretzky said of finding Blanchette. “He was awake.”
After hitting Blanchette in the head with a crowbar, he explained that he choked him with a rope and cut his throat.
He then proceeded upstairs to get Hailey, using a pillow to keep anyone from hearing her screams as he took her to the van.
“Think I’d have a chance if I plead insanity?” Saretzky asked, after first inquiring if he might spend the rest of his life in prison. McCauley responded that it wasn’t something he had control over.
Cpl. Chad Koroluk testified earlier in the day, as he was part of Saretzky’s arrest.
He says Saretzky’s father, Larry, pulled him outside while officers were searching his son’s apartment. Larry then told Cpl. Koroluk that Derek said he "did something horrible," and that they needed to speak with his son. Cst. Amanda Wilkinson, who also testified on Thursday, recorded the subsequent conversation between the officers, Derek and Larry. That audio was played aloud in court.
Saretzky was informed at the beginning of the recording that he was a suspect in both Hailey's disappearance, as well as Terry's death. Cst. Wilkinson noted during her testimony that Saretzky's answers "were evasive" when officers asked him where Hailey was.
Saretzky was also asked at one point why he thought Hailey wasn't in peace before she went missing. He replied, "She probably didn't have a very good life. God told me that.” Shortly after that comment, Cpl. Koroluk is heard arresting Saretzky for the murder of Terry Blanchette, explaining his rights and escorting him away to a police vehicle.
While sitting in the vehicle, Cpl. Koroluk again goes over what Derek has been charged with and his legal rights. However, Derek responds a number of times saying he doesn't understand what he is being told, and that he doesn't remember what happened.
After several failed attempts to contact a lawyer and a comment from Saretzky that he didn’t need one, Cpl. Koroluk reiterated that he was facing serious charges. To that, Derek replied, "I don't remember. My brain does that."
The trial continues Friday morning (June 16), and is expected to run for another two weeks.
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