Man in custody following Taliyah Marsman’s disappearance

An area east of the community of Chestermere, just east of Calgary, is also being searched.

CALGARY – Police confirm they have a man in custody for questioning in the disappearance of a five-year-old girl whose mother was found dead in their home earlier this week.

The man was arrested late Wednesday. Police didn’t release any details about his identity other than to say he is not Taliyah Leigh Marsman’s father and it’s believed he is connected to her mother, Sara Baillie.

“At approximately 10:30 p.m., we took a man into custody who we believe had been involved in Taliyah’s disappearance,” said Det. Andy Nguyen.

Nguyen also said an area east of the Calgary bedroom community of Chestermere is being searched. The size and description of the spot and the number of personnel involved were not immediately known.

“They are hoping to find Taliyah.”

Margaret Orr, who lives on a rural property on the edge of a golf course, said police came by and asked how long she and her husband have been living there and if they’d seen or heard anything suspicious.

“They must have some sort of information that’s kind of saying that they suspect something,” she said.

Orr said she had looked through her barn, greenhouse and other buildings on her property and would continue to keep an eye out.

About a half dozen Calgary police cruisers and an RCMP vehicle were parked at a community hall in Delacour, Alta. Officers rolled out what appeared to be a map on the hood of a police van and were leaned over looking at it.

An Amber Alert was issued for Taliyah early Tuesday after she could not be found following the discovery of Baillie’s body in the basement suite of a northwest Calgary house.

Police said the man taken into custody is believed to have been driving a dark-grey sedan in the neighbourhood. Investigators believe it was involved in Taliyah’s disappearance.

The car was seen driving near where Baillie’s car was found. Security footage shows the car around the time Taliyah was last believed to have been seen.

The Amber Alert is still in effect. Police have ruled Baillie’s death a homicide.

Police have said a girl matching Taliyah’s description was seen with a stocky, black male around 11:30 a.m. Monday in the same area where the child and her mother lived. She was wearing red or pink boots with white polka dots and was carrying a reddish-coloured suitcase.

The suitcase offered a reason to hope the child would be found safe, police said Wednesday.

“If the girl seen … with the boots and the suitcase is, in fact, Taliyah, the suitcase is a promising indication that whoever she’s with has intentions of caring for her to some degree,” Insp. Don Coleman said.

“We’re hopeful that whoever does have her just maybe didn’t realize the situation or is trying to figure out how to resolve it.”

Investigators have also said footage from a closed-circuit camera shows Baillie, who was 34, and her daughter at a Dairy Queen around suppertime Sunday. Baillie appears to be speaking with a man and a boy. Police hope to identify the people in the footage and have posted still photos of the exchange on the City of Calgary’s website.

Taliyah’s father, who was estranged from Baillie, has begged anyone who might know where his “baby” is to come forward.

“Please, it’s never too late to do the right thing! If you even think you might have seen something that could be a clue, let your local law enforcement know immediately,” Colin Marsman said in a statement released to the media through a friend.

Police have said Marsman is co-operating with their investigation.

Looking for more?

Get the Best of Maclean's sent straight to your inbox. Sign up for news, commentary and analysis.