The search for Loretta Saunders continued in Nova Scotia on Saturday as police focused their investigation on a taxi driver who was seen near the Halifax apartment building where the missing pregnant woman was last seen.
Halifax police sent out a request on Saturday morning asking for the public’s help in locating a taxi driver who was parked near the front entrance of Saunders’s Cowie Hill apartment the day she disappeared.
Police believe the driver may hold valuable information pertaining to the case.
“The investigation so far has led us to believe there was a taxi parked in front of 41 Cowie Hill on that date,” Halifax Regional Police Sgt. Nancy Rudback told reporters on Saturday.
“The taxi driver himself - I say himself, it could be a male or a female – is who we would like to speak to.”
Saunders, a 26-year-old university student who is three months pregnant, vanished last week after leaving her boyfriend’s home to collect rent from a couple that had been subletting her apartment.
The couple, Victoria Henneberry, 28, and her boyfriend Blake Leggette, 25, allegedly owed Saunders $700 in overdue rent.
On Tuesday evening, the Ontario Provincial Police found Saunders’s car near Windsor, Ont., and the couple was taken into custody and charged with possessing stolen property and fraud.
Police allege Henneberry and Leggette used Saunders’s bank card in the days between when she disappeared and her car was found.
The couple made their second appearance in a Windsor courtroom Friday. Police say Henneberry and Leggette will remain in custody until Halifax police can travel to Ontario and escort the couple back to Nova Scotia.
“I think the authorities are on their way to get them,” defence lawyer Maria Carroccia told reporters on Friday.
“So I think they will probably be here within the next day or two.”
Friends and family continue search
Meanwhile, the search for Saunders continued Saturday as friends and family made signs and organized search parties across Halifax.
“I don’t know her, but I wanted to provide whatever support I could,” volunteer Jerry Belben told CTV Atlantic.
“I’m approaching a number of restaurants with letters requesting help.”
Volunteers are also posting signs with Saunders’s picture across highways signs between Nova Scotia and Ontario, hoping that someone will come forward with information.
“We’ll still find her. She’s out there somewhere,” said volunteer Annie Clair.
Saunders’s sister, Delilah Terriak, held an emotional press conference on Friday, pleading with the public to help locate the missing woman.
“I’d like to make a national plea to see if anyone has seen her car or has any information…toll booths, gas stations, anything,” she said.
Terriak, who flew to Halifax from British Columbia to search for Saunders, appealed for witnesses who may have seen her sister’s car as it travelled between Nova Scotia and Ontario.
The 2000 Toyota Celica has a distinctive loud muffler and a spoiler on the back. The Newfoundland plate is: HCP 543.
“Someone had to have seen her or the people who were driving her car,” Terriak said.
Friends have also set up a website to help Saunders’s five brothers and parents travel from Labrador to Halifax to help with the search effort.
The website was flooded with donations and received more than $7,000 in just one day. As of Saturday afternoon, the site had reached its $10,000 goal, receiving over $11,400 in donations.
Friends say Saunders’s uncle and two brothers have already arrived in Halifax and her parents are currently making arrangements to join them.
Saunders had been studying at St. Mary’s University for the past three years, and was working on a thesis about missing and murdered women.She is described as an Inuk woman with light-brown hair. She stands 5’7” and weighs 120 pounds.
“She is the strongest person that I know, that we know,” Terriak said. “She is so strong and that’s what’s keeping me going through this.”