Calgary Police lay three murder charges in connection to the O'Brien and Liknes disappearance, continue to search acreages near Airdrie
Tuesday, Jul 15, 2014 11:08 am
The Calgary Police Service (CPS) have arrested Douglas Garland, 54, for the murders of Nathan O’Brien, 5, and Kathryn, 53, and Alvin Liknes, 66, on July 14.
Garland, was charged was rearrested in the Airdrie area on the same day.
Garland faces two counts of First Degree Murder for the death of the Liknes couple and a Second Degree Murder charge for the death O’Brien.
O’Brien and his grandparents went missing from their southwest home in the Calgary community of Parkhill on June 29 after an estate sale was held on the property early that day.
The AMBER Alert – which went nation wide on June 30 - was discontinued on July 14, one hour prior to the CPS press conference held at their headquarters.
“I can’t image how difficult this has been for you,” Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson said to the O’Brien family who were not present at the announcement.
Hanson confirmed the investigation has moved from a missing persons case to a homicide investigation, due to the amount of evidence collected, but would not comment on the motive of the crime.
“The family is devastated,” Hanson said. “With the laying of these charges they (the charges) have taken the hope away from the family."
He explained the investigation’s “highest priority” is to find the bodies and to “provide closure for the family.”
“We’re not going to jeopardize the file by releasing any information about the evidence collected. There is no smoking gun… but this file has been built piece by piece by piece,” he said.
Hanson thanked the more than 200 officers and analysts that investigated more than 900 tips from the public since their disappearance two weeks ago.
“All of us at Cenovus are deeply saddened by the recent developments in the search for Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents Kathy and Alvin Liknes,” said Brian Ferguson, Cenovus president and chief executive officer where O’Brien’s parents - Rod and Jennifer - work.
“It has been a heart-wrenching two weeks for them, and I can only imagine how devastating this news has been. On behalf of everyone at Cenovus, I offer them my deepest sympathy and condolences.”
The bodies of the now-presumed deceased have not been found, and the investigation is still ongoing in rural areas surround the City of Calgary and Airdrie.
A Facebook group of concerned Airdrie residents called “Please help us bring closure to the O'Brien & Liknes Family Search Airdrie” was created on July 14 to help with the search efforts.
“As moms and parents of children, none of us ever want to imagine losing a child. With the recent police charges, we feel as a community we can help bring closure to this family. We want to search our back roads, swampy areas, oil company dirt roads. If you can spare a few hours per day, please come help,” the groups board said.
As of 5 p.m. on July 14 the group had 166 members.
Hanson asked people in the Airdrie community, where the bulk of the investigation has taken place, to remain vigilant and report anything out of the ordinary to police.
CPS conducted a massive search of a rural property northeast of Airdrie on July 12, where officers conducted a ground sweep of the property.
Police first began searching the property located 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.
The CPS Water Rescue Team searched a slough 500 metres north of the property, and the K-9 unit was also been brought in.
The HAWCS helicopter conducted aerial searches of the area.
The RCMP were brought in due to 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.
A man called a ‘person of interest’ by police was taken in for questioning on July 5. He was later identified as Garland, 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 confirmed a connection between Garland and the Liknes family; his sister is in a common-law relationship with a member of the Liknes family.
-With files from Christina Waldner