© The Labradorian - TC Media
Loretta Saunders - Submitted
The sister of murder victim Loretta Saunders is looking for funds to travel to next week’s preliminary hearing in Halifax. Loretta’s older sister, Audrey Saunders, wants to go to the July 21 hearing with her daughter, Mariah, but can’t afford transportation from St. John’s.
“I really want to go. I feel like I need to do this,” said Audrey. “There’s a lot of reasons why I want to go and face these people. I think it will help me just to know what happened to her — closure I guess.”
Loretta Saunders, a 26-year-old, pregnant Inuk student from Labrador, was found dead by the side of a New Brunswick highway near Moncton in February. At the time of her death, she was writing a thesis at Saint Mary’s University on cases of murdered and missing aboriginal women.
Will sell bracelets
Audrey needs to raise more than $300 for her flight to Halifax, as well as money for her daughter’s. She has set up a donation website and has also made bracelets bearing Loretta’s name, which she will sell downtown this weekend. She said she hopes people will wear the bracelets and pray for Loretta during the trial.
Audrey says she and Loretta were extremely close throughout their lives.
“When I turned 13 and I was old enough to babysit her, she was three. I took her everywhere with me. She was like my own,” said Audrey. “I feel like my sister would want me to be there. I don’t know how she died. There’s just a lot of things I don’t want to be told over the phone. I’d love to be with my family.”
Although Audrey will not take her six-year-old daughter to the trial, she wants to remain near her child throughout the ordeal.
“There’s a friend of the family who will watch her when we’re in court, but I just want her close. She’s been going through a really tough time. Her attitude has changed and she’s always making this squealing noise, which she never did before. They say it’s anxiety because of everything going on.”
Loretta’s death has hit Audrey hard. Crying over the phone, she talks about how much her sister meant to her.
“I used to pray to God, thanking Him we’re still all together, even though we weren’t in the same place. I used to pray to God He didn’t take one of us yet,” she said. “I can’t watch TV, I can’t watch the news anymore. There’s just so much killing and murder for no reason.”
Audrey was in her first year at Memorial University this year and planning on applying for nursing school. However, after Loretta’s death in February, she was unable to meet the application deadline and dropped out of school. She is currently unemployed and living in St. John’s.
Loretta went missing on Feb. 13. Her body was found two weeks later. Her roommates, Blake Leggette, 26, and his girlfriend, Victoria Henneberry, 28, have been charged with first-degree murder.