Murder charges formally laid
CALGARY—A man who has been under investigation in the disappearance of a Calgary boy and his grandparents formally has been charged with their murders.
Calgary police said today that Douglas Garland, 54, was charged with first-degree murder in the deaths of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes, and second-degree murder in the death of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien.
He did not respond to a barrage of questions.
Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson said an arrest had been made earlier in the day yesterday but said the person couldn’t be identified until the charges were made official.
Garland lives on an acreage near Airdrie, just north of Calgary, where much of the search by police has been concentrated since the trio vanished from the Liknes’ home on June 29.
The couple had held an estate sale at their home that weekend and their grandson stayed for a sleepover. But when his mother came to get him the next morning, no one was home.
No bodies have been found so far.
Police have said there was evidence something violent had happened in the grandparents’ house, but until yesterday believed there was a chance they could be found alive.
“Even as the days went by, there’s always a hope, there’s always a glimmer of hope,” Hanson said yesterday morning.
“Unfortunately, with the laying of the charges, we’ve taken that hope away from the family.
“So they are devastated.”
In an e-mail 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.”
After news of the arrest, flowers starting piling up in front of the grandparents’ home. A note next to some candles read, “I believe.”
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 noted.
They determined charges were warranted.
An Amber Alert issued shortly after the family members were reported missing also was cancelled.
“It was clear at that point that this was no longer a missing persons’ investigation. This was a homicide investigation,” Hanson said.
Despite the charges, the police chief said the case is not closed and investigators will continue to search for the bodies.
Hanson renewed calls for rural property owners to search their land for anything out of the ordinary.