Search will continue until no stone is left unturned, police
Friday, Jul 11, 2014 09:33 am
Officials of the Calgary Police Service (CPS) say officers will remain on the scene of a massive search of a rural property northeast of Airdrie for as long as it takes to conclude their investigation into the disappearance of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin Liknes, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53, from their home in the southwest Calgary community of Parkhill.
An AMBER alert was issued June 30 when Nathan’s mother went to pick him up from his grandparents’ home and reported them missing.
“The search will continue until no stone is left unturned,” said Kevin Brookwell, spokesperson for the CPS told media at a press conference the afternoon of July 8.
Police first began the search of the property on Range Road 291, approximately two kms north of Highway 567, on the evening of July 4, after receiving a tip about a Ford F150 truck they were looking for in connection with the disappearance of the three family members. A truck matching the description of one seen on CCTV footage taken near the family’s home on the night they disappeared was found and removed from the property.
A man called a ‘person of interest’ by police was taken in for questioning July 5. He has subsequently been identified as Douglas Garland, 54, son of the elderly couple who own the acreage. Garland was released on July 6, but was in Calgary Provincial Court on July 7 to answer to an unrelated charge of identity theft. His case was held over to July 9. Garland has a criminal record including a conviction for drug trafficking.
Police have confirmed a connection between Garland and the Liknes family; his sister is in a common-law relationship with a member of the Liknes family.
Dozens of police officers continue to conduct a shoulder-to-shoulder search of the property. The CPS Water Rescue Team has been to the scene to search a slough 500 metres north of the property, and the K-9 unit has also been brought in. The HAWCS helicopter has conducted aerial searches of the area. CPS is being assisted in the search by the Special Tactical Operations Unit of the RCMP, including four Airdrie officers. The RCMP were brought in because of the size of the search area, which covers several kilometres. EMS were also on site on July 9 as a precaution due to the high temperatures to support the members who are conducting the search.
Brookwell said the investigation is still being treated as a missing persons case and they are hopeful the three will be found alive. Approximately 200 people attended an estate sale at the Liknes home on June 29, the day before the trio went missing. Of those, only 88 have come forward responding to an appeal from police. Brookwell said they would like to speak to the remaining people who attended the sale.
Evidence has been removed from the acreage and from the home at the centre of the search, however, Brookwell would not say what kind of evidence was retrieved. It has been sent to the crime lab in Edmonton for expedited processing.
“As with all major crime investigations, it is a delicate balance to provide the public with as much information as possible, without jeopardizing the investigation itself or any future court case,” said Brookwell.
Corissa Boychuk, world champion trampoline athlete and twin sister of Zach Boychuk who plays with the Carolina Hurricanes, lives near the acreage. Boychuk said she first saw police vehicles on Range Road 291 around 11:30 p.m. on July 4.
Boychuk, who’s lived in the area for 11 years, initially thought the police had pulled someone over for a routine traffic stop and said she was surprised her rural community was the scene of a serious missing persons investigation.
“It scared me a little because it’s so close to home. It’s very unusual to see police in this area, let alone in these numbers.”
The AMBER Alert remains in effect, and Brookwell said they have received a number of sightings from across Canada. All have been followed up, however, investigators have not been able to confirm a positive sighting.
Brookwell said CPS is in daily contact with the Liknes and O’Brien families who are obviously devastated by the disappearance of three family members.
Police encourage property owners in rural areas outside Calgary to check their properties for anything suspicious.
Companies who own rural sites, such as well sites, are also asked to please check their properties for anything that may be out of the ordinary.