SPARWOOD, B.C. — Kienan Hebert’s father says the arrest of the sole suspect in his son’s disappearance is a relief for his family and will calm nerves in this southeastern British Columbia community.
Convicted sex offender Randall Hopley, 46, was arrested Tuesday morning, nearly a week after three-year-old Kienan vanished from his family home in Sparwood, B.C., RCMP said. A worker at a rock quarry in southwestern Alberta, not far from the B.C. boundary, said Hopley was arrested nearby.
Police offered few details of the arrest, which came two days after Kienan was mysteriously returned to his home in the middle of the night. A news conference was planned for later in the day in Sparwood.
Kienan’s father, Paul Hebert, who has shown a thoughtful stoicism as the family’s spokesman during the past week, was elated at the news.
“We’re happy for the community, relieved for the community. What more can we say? Extremely excited,” Hebert told The Canadian Press shortly after RCMP confirmed the arrest.
“We’re all excited that he’s out of the community.”
Kienan was reported missing last Wednesday morning, prompting a massive search of the woods surrounding the family home and an Amber Alert that spanned several days before it was expanded into Alberta.
The boy was discovered back inside his home early Sunday morning after someone called police telling them where to find the boy.
The home was empty at the time and Hebert has said the house’s doors were left unlocked so Kienan could be returned there. He hasn’t said whether police advised him to do that.
Hopley was named as the suspect in the Amber Alert, and after Kienan’s return, police and the Heberts have publicly urged the man to turn himself in.
An employee with the Graymont rock quarry in Crowsnest Pass, Alta., said Mounties arrested Hopley near the company’s lime plant off Highway 3, just west of the town of Coleman.
A resident at nearby Crowsnest Lake confirmed several officers were combing the area and interviewing people living there.
Hebert, who has said his faith in God has allowed him to already forgive the alleged abductor, has been critical of the justice system for failing to intervene as Hopley’s past criminal actions became public — including allegations involving a child.
On Tuesday, Hebert said the arrest is good news for Hopley, too.
“I think he’s got a much better chance than a hunter finding him in the bush,” Hebert said.
“He’s going to get the help that he needs.”
Hebert has said his son, who is one of eight children, appeared to be unharmed and was adjusting to life back with his family.
Hopley hasn’t been charged in Kienan’s disappearance. Two of his recent defence lawyers have declined comment.