CRANBROOK, B.C. — Accused child abductor Randall Hopley was ordered to undergo a psychiatric evaluation during his first court appearance Wednesday, a day after his dramatic arrest in the disappearance of three-year-old Kienan Hebert.
Hopley, 46, was in handcuffs when he arrived at a courthouse in Cranbrook, about 70 kilometres southwest of Sparwood, where Kienan disappeared from his family home a week ago. The boy mysteriously returned to the home early Sunday morning.
Hopley is charged with kidnapping, abduction of a child under 14 and break and enter. He’s also been charged with two counts of breach of probation.
He sat quietly while being ordered to return to court Nov. 9, following the psychiatric evaluation.
Kienan was reported missing last Wednesday from his home in Sparwood, setting off a massive search and an Amber Alert.
The boy was discovered inside the family home in the dead of night Sunday morning after police received a 911 call telling them to look there.
That ended the Amber Alert, but it also intensified the hunt for Hopley.
Police told a news conference on Tuesday that Hopley was tracked to an abandoned cabin on Crowsnest Lake, just across the Alberta boundary from Sparwood.
When an officer knocked on the cabin door, the RCMP said, the police dog indicated someone was inside.
Hopley bolted, according to RCMP Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick, but was captured after a short chase.
“It doesn’t get any better than this,” said Fitzpatrick.
The RCMP has come under criticism for the timing of the Amber Alert, especially the days it took before it was expanded into Alberta, and the fact that someone was able to return to the family home undetected and return Kienan.
The force is clearly sensitive to both issues, taking pains throughout the past week to explain why the Amber Alert was issued the way it was and stress that there was no reason to be watching the family home because there was no indication Kienan would be returned there.
As the lengthy court process began Wednesday, residents in Sparwood — especially Kienan’s own family — say they won’t ever be quite the same.
“We’re just going to move on. We’re going to take it one step at a time and eventually we’ll just forget about this and just carry on,” said Paul Hebert, standing on the driveway of his home late Tuesday afternoon.
On Tuesday, the boy’s father was packing up his family, which includes eight children, for a welcome night away.
Hebert, who said his family’s Baptist faith kept them going throughout the ordeal, said he isn’t looking for vengeance. Nor does he bear any ill will to the man who is alleged to have stolen and then returned his little boy.
“I’m just a simple guy. I’m not a professional at making the laws or judging the laws but I do hope that he gets corrected and I just hope that everything works out. He’s a man that needs help,” Hebert said softly.
“There’s two ways that you can look at it: You can feed hate or you can feed love. They’re both characters. Hate is a very hungry animal and I just don’t choose to feed that animal.”
The family hasn’t slept in their home since Kienan was grabbed one week ago, but Hebert said his kids wanted to come back Tuesday and were very comfortable. Kienan was exhausted from playing all day, he said.
Residents of this close-knit mining town of about 4,000 people had banded together throughout the ordeal. Signs warning of Kienan’s disappearance were taped to doors, windows and counters, while hundreds of volunteers turned out to scour the area around the Hebert household looking for clues.
There was angst from many, especially those with tots of their own.
“I don’t have to lock my door anymore,” exclaimed Lyndsey Vinet, who was holding her one-year-old son Rhys in her arms while four-year-old Kaelen played nearby.
“We could not sleep. My husband slept with him,” she said, pointing to Kaelen. “I slept with the other two. Now we really can sleep. Everybody can sleep.”