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Updated: Sat, 22 Feb 2014 15:35:18 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Loretta Saunders's boyfriend: 'She meant everything to me'



Yalcin Surkultay has been dating Loretta Saunders for two and a half years. CBC

Yalcin Surkultay has been dating Loretta Saunders for two and a half years. CBC

The boyfriend of a missing Halifax woman told CBC News he is suspicious about the last text message he received from his girlfriend's cellphone before she mysteriously disappeared.  

Yalcin Surkultay, 25, said he knew something was wrong a week ago when he got a text from Loretta Saunders, 26, a Saint Mary's University student, asking him what her mother's maiden name was. 

He said he received the strange text message Feb. 14 from his girlfriend, who was last seen on Feb. 13. It read: “I’m so stressed that I can’t like even remember my own mother’s maiden name.”

“It’s not possible,” Surkultay told CBC News. 

“She said she was stressed and locked herself out [of her] online banking — and she needed money, but it didn’t really make sense to me … I couldn’t make sense out of it, like why would she be stressed out all of a sudden?”

Surkultay and Saunders, an Inuk woman from Newfoundland and Labrador, had been dating for 2½ years.

He said when he saw Saunders on the morning of Feb. 13 she told him she was going to try and get rent money from her roommates, Victoria Henneberry, 28, and Blake Legette, 25. 

The couple had moved in the month before and had yet to pay rent. 

"She found them on Kijiji, and it has been a month or something and they didn’t pay the rent," said Surkultay.

Earlier this week, Saunders's car was found in Harrow, Ont., south of Windsor.

Police in Ontario have charged Leggette and Henneberry with possession of stolen goods and fraud.

Police told CBC News a fraud charge against Leggette is connected to the use of Saunders's bank card.

Thesis on missing women

Surkultay said Saunders was writing her thesis, focusing on missing and murdered aboriginal women, and often worked into the early morning hours. 

“She was just so passionate about this topic and this whole school thing. She was so happy from the feedback she got from her professors — that was really, really important to her. She always wanted to go to law school. She was the most hardworking person I had ever seen, it was mind blowing,” he said.

Surkultay said his relationship with Saunders was serious. The couple even visited his family in Turkey. 

“I thought we would be together for a long time,” he said.

“She meant everything to me. She was pretty much the one I wanted to be with for the rest of my life.”

Surkultay said Saunders was not three months pregnant, as has previously been reported, but said she took a pregnancy test a few weeks ago that was positive. He said she was going to have a blood test done to confirm it. 

“It doesn't seem real to me. This is the calmest I have been for a while, I just keep having breakdowns, I don’t know what to do," he said.

'She wouldn't want us to waste time crying'

Saunders's sister is asking anyone who has seen the missing woman or who may have seen her vehicle between Nova Scotia and Ontario to contact police.

Working with the Nova Scotia Native Women's Association, Delilah Saunders-Terriak, 21, spoke to reporters in Halifax on Friday morning.

"Someone had to have seen her car or the people driving her car,” she said. 

Saunders-Terriak described her sister as strong. 

"She wouldn't want us wasting time crying," she said. 

A family friend started a fundraising campaign online to help bring Saunders's five brothers and parents from Newfoundland to Nova Scotia to help in the search. By Friday evening, it had raised about $7,500 of the $10,000 goal.

“We need to be together when we find out what’s going on, when we hear some good news," said Saunders-Terriak. "It still hasn't set in."

Halifax police said they have obtained arrest warrants to return Legette and Henneberry to Nova Scotia.

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