Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson says first and second degree murder charges are being filed in connection with the disappearance of Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents at a news conference in Calgary

Family of missing boy, grandparents won’t give up on finding them alive

CALGARY — Police say murder charges are pending in the mysterious case of a missing Calgary boy and his grandparents, but one relative says the family still hopes they’re alive.

CALGARY — Police say murder charges are pending in the mysterious case of a missing Calgary boy and his grandparents, but one relative says the family still hopes they’re alive.

In an email to The Canadian Press, Teena Prevost, a sister-in-law of Kathryn Liknes, said her family is praying police are wrong.

“Until the police can show us the bodies of our loved ones we will not believe they are deceased,” she wrote. “Praying we will find them alive.”

Teena is married to Randy Prevost, the brother of Kathryn Liknes, and wants people to know that family is suffering as well.

“Her siblings seem to be all forgotten in all this mess,” she said. “Kathy was an amazing sister and sister-in-law.”

Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson told reporters a man was arrested early Monday, but couldn’t be identified until he appeared before a justice of the peace on the charges later in the day or early Tuesday.

The man is to face two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes. One charge of second-degree murder is to be laid in the death of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien.

Hanson said the man in custody is from Airdrie, a community north of Calgary, but would not confirm media reports that it is Douglas Garland. The 54-year-old lives on an Airdrie acreage with his parents and was earlier questioned as a person of interest in the case.

Hanson would only say police are not looking for any other suspects.

The missing family members were last seen two weeks ago, on June 29. The couple held an estate sale at their home that weekend and their grandson stayed for a sleepover.

When his mother went to pick him up the next day, no one was home.

Police have said there was evidence something violent had happened in the grandparents’ house, but always believed there was a chance they could be found alive.

Shortly after the three disappeared, Nathan’s parents issued a tearful plea through the media asking for their return and urging their “superhero” son to be brave.

“Even as the days went by there’s always a hope, there’s always a glimmer of hope,” Hanson said. “Unfortunately with the laying of the charges, we’ve taken that hope away from the family. So they are devastated.”

After news of the arrest, flowers starting piling up in front of the grandparents’ home. A note next to some candles read, “I believe.”

“I hope they’re wrong and they will find them,” said neighbour Natalie Stevenson. “To think of losing my parents like that or my son would just be a nightmare.”

While refusing to discuss the evidence in any detail, Hanson said there is no “smoking gun” that finally led to the arrest and the belief the three are dead.

Investigators met with Crown prosecutors on Sunday to go over evidence that had been gathered over the two weeks, he said. They determined charges were warranted. An Amber Alert issued shortly after the family members were reported missing was also cancelled.

“It was clear at that point that this was no longer a missing persons investigation. This was a homicide investigation,” Hanson said.

From the beginning, the case captivated people across the country. Thousands of people wrote messages on a blog for the family and police received more than 900 tips from the public, including sightings reported from coast to coast.

Despite the charges, the police chief said the case is not closed and investigators will continue to search for bodies of little Nathan and his grandparents.

Hanson renewed calls for rural property owners to search their land for anything out of the ordinary.

Garland was first questioned more than a week ago, then held on unrelated identity theft charges. He was released from custody on Friday. His lawyer on those charges, Kim Ross, did not return messages seeking comment Monday.

Investigators have been searching his parents’ acreage northeast of Airdrie, including several fields and sloughs on and around the property.

Garland has ties to the Liknes family. His sister is in a relationship with a member of the Liknes family.

Police earlier said they were looking into whether there was a business connection to the missing persons file.

Alvin Liknes was involved in several oil and gas companies, including Winter Petroleum Ltd., which media reports say was forced to close a few weeks ago. The CBC has quoted a police source as saying Garland and Alvin Liknes had a dispute over a patent for a gas device.

Court documents show Garland has a criminal record and mental issues.

In 2000, he was sentenced to 39 months for making amphetamines at his parents’ farm. Before he went to prison, he jumped bail and lived for several years in Vancouver using the identity of a dead person.

The Parole Board of Canada gave him accelerated release after six months, noting in its decision that Garland’s prior criminal record consisted of various property offences over the course of 20 years.

His mental health played a role in the crimes, the board said, but a psychologist determined that Garland had “little violence potential to others.” It ordered a psychologist and psychiatrist to closely monitor him during his release.

Prime Minister Stephen Harper sent out a message of condolence on Twitter Monday.

“Our thoughts and prayers are with the O’Brien and Liknes families during this time.”

Alberta Premier Dave Hancock and Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi also offered their condolences.

Just Posted

Smaller, more affordable, lots wanted in Red Deer’s Evergreen neighbourhood

Council approves first reading of requested lot-size changes

Political shifts, sales slump cast shadow over gun industry

When gunmakers and dealers gather this week in Las Vegas for the… Continue reading

Yellow vests in Canada bear no resemblance to protesters in France: ambassador

OTTAWA — Canada’s ambassador to France says this country’s yellow-vest protest movement… Continue reading

China demands U.S. withdraw request for Canada to extradite Huawei executive

BEIJING — China issued fresh demands Tuesday that the U.S. abandon its… Continue reading

Health Canada ready to unveil newly revamped Canada Food Guide

OTTAWA — Canadians will finally see Health Canada’s modern spin on healthy… Continue reading

2-for-1: Total lunar eclipse comes with supermoon bonus

On Sunday night, the moon, Earth and sun lined up to create the eclipse, which was visible throughout North and South America

Canadian talent abound on newly revamped Vancouver Whitecaps squad

VANCOUVER — The Vancouver Whitecaps may need to stock up on maple… Continue reading

China demands US drop Huawei extradition request with Canada

China detained two Canadians on Dec. 10 in an apparent attempt to pressure Canada to release Meng

Rugby Canada Hall of Fame a family affair for hard-nosed forward Hans de Goede

Hans de Goede, a hard-nosed lock forward who captained Canada at the… Continue reading

5 burning questions ahead of the Oscar nominations

NEW YORK — The Oscars still don’t have a host, but on… Continue reading

‘Bao,’ ‘Animal Behaviour,’ ‘Weekends’ among Canadian Oscar nominees

LOS ANGELES — Several Canadians have landed Oscar nominations. The category for… Continue reading

9 brains, 3 hearts: Some wild facts about octopuses

Things to know about the giant Pacific octopus, which is naturally found in the waters of the U.S. West coast, the Aleutian Islands and Japan

Hollywood announces 2019 Oscar nominations

Netflix has scored its first best picture nomination, something the streaming giant has dearly sought

Opinion: Faith in immigration must be preserved

Canada has a deserved reputation for extending its arms to newcomers, but… Continue reading

Most Read