A jury in Lethbridge, Alberta took only three hours of deliberations to deliver a verdict of guilty, in the triple-murder trial of Derek Saretzky. The twenty-four year old was convicted of three counts of first-degree murder in the 2015 deaths of two-year-old Hailey Dunbar-Blanchette, her father, Terry Blanchette, and sixty-nine year old Hanne Meketech. Saretzky was also convicted of committing an indignity to a body.
The jury of six men and six women found Saretzky planned and deliberated in the murders of Meketech and Blanchette however, it was unclear on what grounds the jury reached a first-degree murder conviction in the death of the toddler. Justice W. Tillman advised the jury that finding the accused guilty of planning and deliberating a murder or, reaching a guilty verdict on the grounds of a murder committed in the course of a kidnapping, both yielded first-degree murder convictions.
During the trial there was no conclusion on a motive for the slayings of the senior, the toddler and her father. In police tapes shown to the court, Saretzky claimed the devil made him do bad things. He had pleaded not guilty, and at one time had asked if he could make an insanity plea. Prior to the trial he was assessed twice, with both assessments resulting in a decision that Saretzky could not plead “not criminally responsible”.
EXPLICIT CONTENT: In September 2015, Saretzky entered the home of sixty-nine year old Hanne Meketech, a friend of his grandparents. He claimed to police that he killed the senior because he thought no-one cared about her and that no-one would miss her. Less than a week later, he slaughtered Terry Blanchette, stabbing him in the throat in front of Terry’s daughter. Saretzky took the toddler from the crime scene; Terry’s home, and drove to a campsite which his family partly owned. Once there, he strangled the little girl with a shoe lace and ate part of her heart. Saretzky told police, he said a prayer before burning the child’s body in a fire-pit.
After Blanchette’s father found his son’s body, an Amber Alert was issued for Hailey. Witnesses reported seeing a white van around Blanchette’s home which was eventually traced to a vehicle belonging to the Saretzky family’s cleaning business. Derek Saretzky became a person of interest and was later charged with triple-murder. Police tapes presented in court show Saretzky revealing the location of Haley’s remains. The police found only charred bones and a toy which belonged to the toddler.
Saretzky showed no emotion while the verdict was read. The convictions carry an automatic life sentence and, in delivering their verdict, the jury recommended no parole for seventy-five years. Victim impact statements will be heard by Justice Tillman at a sentencing hearing on Thursday, June 29th, 2017.
This article was written by Mandy Smallwood.