CALGARY – The man police have been investigating in the disappearance of a missing Calgary family has been formally charged with their murders.
Douglas Garland was arrested near Airdrie on Monday morning, as the search for five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes, turned into a homicide investigation.
He was escorted to the Calgary police arrest processing unit on Monday evening, prior to appearing before a justice of the peace.
On Tuesday, Garland was officially charged with two counts of first-degree murder in relation to the deaths of Kathryn and Alvin Liknes, and one count of second-degree murder in the death of Nathan O’Brien.
He is scheduled to appear in court on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.
When asked how police were able to lay charges despite not yet recovering the bodies of the victims, Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson admitted it is a ‘complexity.’
“You can still find evidence that supports a homicide, unequivocally supports a homicide charge in the absence of a body.” says Hanson while on Global Calgary’s Morning News on Tuesday.
“Without bodies, you have to build a case which is based on pieces of evidence that have to pull together at a particular time,” adds Hanson. “You assess, you add evidence, you get new evidence in, you chase down some leads, you pull more information together… and every day you’re looking at what you’ve got.”
“Both the Crown and our offices felt that we [had] a substantial enough case to put in front of the courts.”
“For many years there was the belief that without the body you don’t have a crime, well the reality is… you don’t need a body as long as there is sufficient evidence to support that it was a homicide,” says Hanson.
“We know that the hardest thing to accept is that anyone, regardless of who’s charged in this case, that anyone could kill a child.”
The Amber Alert initially issued on June 30th has been discontinued.
Police are continuing to ask rural property owners and business to search their land for anything suspicious.
WATCH: Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson joins Global Calgary with details on the murder charges laid against Douglas Garland
Garland, 54, was first taken into custody when police began scouring a rural home near Airdrie on July 4th. He was released on Friday on $750 bail in connection to charges unrelated to the missing family.
Garland is no stranger to police; he served 39-months in a federal prison in 2000 after being convicted of drug trafficking.
Parole documents from his previous charges obtained by Global News show Garland was not believed to be a risk to the public back in 2000, despite serving months behind bars. However, it did note concerns about his mental health leading to criminal activity in granting Garland’s day parole to a supervised facility.
On Monday afternoon, Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi issued the following statement:
“I, like all Calgarians, am terribly saddened to learn about the murder charges that were laid today related to the missing persons investigation in our community. My heart goes out to the Liknes and O’Brien families, and I know that they will continue to have the support they need from all of us at this very difficult time. My thanks go to my colleagues at the Calgary Police Service and the women and men of the RCMP for their hard work on this investigation.”
Prime Minister Stephen Harper also extended his condolences:
Nathan’s parents Rod and Jennifer O’Brien both work at Cenovus. The company’s president and CEO Brian Ferguson released the following statement:
“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. My thoughts are with Rod and Jennifer O’Brien, who work for Cenovus. 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.”