SPARWOOD, B.C. — The stealthy abduction of a three-year-old boy from his bed in Sparwood, B.C., and his subsequent undetected return to the home under the cover of darkness has many in this peaceful mountain community fearfully looking over their shoulders.
Police received an anonymous 911 call around 3 a.m. local time Sunday morning and were told where to find little Kienan Hebert. The most troubling thing was that the caller, believed to be convicted sex offender Randall Hopley, 46, told police they could find Kienan in his own home.
“Taking the child undetected and then placing him back undetected certainly is a chilling prospect,” Moskaluk admitted.
The Hebert home, which had been surrounded by yellow police tape since Kienan disappeared early Wednesday morning had been thoroughly searched by investigators.
After Kienan’s return the police tape was placed around the entire block. There are several homes nearby. Later in the day investigators were scouring the house once again for more forensic evidence.
No one saw Kienan taken some time last Wednesday morning and no one was there to document his return.
Kienan, who is the second youngest of eight children, was seen playing with his brothers and sisters down the street from the family home, apparently none the worse for wear.
“This young boy was returned by an abductor. In 26 years of policing I have never seen this,” said an emotional RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk. “The little guy appears to be in good health. Little guys like this are very resilient. That’s what we’re seeing this morning.”
“To the rest of the world 9-11 means New York. 9-11 to me means Kienan Hebert.”
Word of Kienan’s return spread quickly throughout Sparwood, a coal mining town of about 4,000 surrounded on all sides by mountains and trees. The community had mustered hundreds of volunteers to search the area around the Hebert home.
“I’m rather ecstatic right now. When we heard the news first thing this morning we were already up planning for today’s operations. In this case, a little boy being brought back — man it’s excellent,” said search and rescue spokesman Jeff Smedley.
Sparwood’s acting mayor Sharon Fraser paid the Hebert family a visit early Sunday morning.
“I’ve never heard of this happening. I’ve never heard of a child being abducted and then returned right back to the home. So to me it’s nothing short of a big miracle,” said Fraser. “It just scares the heck out of you period.”
Police say only half of the job has been done. The next step is to try and contact Hopley and try and get him to turn himself in.
“Half of this is over now. Kienan’s with his family now and what we’ve got left to do is we need to speak to you. It’s very, very important that we speak to you Randy,” Moskaluk said, addressing Hopley through the media.
“Our main concern now is for you to contact us. We need to talk to you about this and obviously the right thing was done here … Kienan’s back with his family. All I’m asking is you call police, reach out to us.”
Former Sparwood mayor David Wilks, now the Conservative MP for the area, worked as an RCMP officer in Sparwood before entering politics.
Wilks, who attends church with the Hebert’s, said he remembers dealing with Hopley in his policing days and admits the circumstances are disturbing.
“Is there another child next? He’s still out there,” shrugged Wilks.
“He has the uncanny ability to get into a house and back out with everyone in it and not only take a child but deliver the child back,” he added.
But Wilks had been optimistic that Kienan would be delivered home safely.
“I felt that he would not harm him but for whatever reason he wanted him to be with him.”
The boy’s father, Paul Hebert, called his pastor shortly after Kienan was found Sunday morning.
Pastor Ron Rutley of the Sparwood Fellowship Baptist Church gave thanks for Kienan’s safe return in his Sunday morning sermon.
“It’s just like a dream. Lord we thank you that Kienan is home safe. We pray for him right now,” said Rutley.
Police said a second abduction attempt happened at another home on the evening Hebert went missing. A suspect tried unsuccessfully to lure another child out of the home.
Hopley was convicted of sexual assault in the mid-1980s and was given a two-year federal prison sentence.