CALGARY- Calgarians are reacting with shock and grief, just hours after Calgary Police said the search for a missing family has turned into a murder investigation.
Five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes, have not been seen since June 30. Despite an Amber Alert, hundreds of tips from the public and an exhaustive search, they have not been found.
On Monday, police announced that murder charges were pending against a person of interest in connection with their deaths.
“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,” said Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi, in a statement. “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:
Laureen & I are saddened by the tragic news from Calgary. Our thoughts & prayers are with the O'Brien & Liknes families during this time.—
Stephen Harper (@pmharper) July 14, 2014
People began visiting the Liknes’ Parkhill home on Monday, shortly after the police news conference. Flowers were left on the front porch, in a tribute to the family.
“I have a grandson his age, so, you know, it’s heartwrenching,” said neighbour Tim Taylor. “I can’t imagine what they’re going through. The whole thing is just a terrible, terrible situation.”
“It’s obviously hard for everyone,” adds neighbour Natalie Stevenson. “Everyone’s pretty upset over it and this is a really family-oriented community.
“To have such a young child taken from a home here is really horrifying.”
Green ribbons also line area streets, in a sign of solidarity.
Police Chief Rick Hanson said news that murder charges have been laid have devastated the family.
“Unfortunately with the laying of the charges, we’ve taken that hope away from the family. So they’re devastated,” he said. “Ultimately we want to be able to find the bodies, so the family can have final closure.”
Nathan’s parents Rod and Jennifer O’Brien both work at Cenovus. The company’s president and CEO Brian Ferguson has 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.”