CALGARY- Calgarians are coming together to support the devastated Liknes and O’Brien families, just one day after police announced the search for a missing family had turned into a murder investigation.
Five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents Alvin and Kathryn Liknes haven’t been seen since June 30, when Nathan’s mother dropped him off at the Liknes’ Parkhill home for a sleepover.
Douglas Garland, 54, has since been charged with two counts of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder in connection with the case, though no bodies have been found.
Those who have been touched by the case are organizing memorials in support of the families, including a number scheduled for Tuesday night.
At 8 p.m., green candles will be lit and green balloons released at the Parkhill Stanley Park Community hall. A similar event will be held in Mitford Park in Cochrane, where there will be prayers and then a balloon release, as well as in John Peak Park in Chestermere. Lethbridge residents are also taking part in an event at Henderson Lake at 7 p.m.
A makeshift memorial has popped up in front of the Liknes home, and green ribbons line streets in the Parkhill neighbourhood. Many people have also changed their photos on social media to show a green ribbon with the names Nathan, Kathryn and Alvin.
Police continue to ask rural property owners to keep an eye out for anything suspicious on their land that may be related to the case. Some people are also organizing searches around Airdrie.
“I’ve got two legs and a heartbeat and I’ve got two good eyes,” says Matt Forseth. “I might as well use them.”
“I would never, ever stop looking if it was my son, and I wouldn’t want others to stop looking either,” adds Laura Cameron.
“My little guy went missing for 15 minutes and I could barely breathe. I can’t imagine what these parents are going through.”
Meantime, about two dozen parishoners from the Catholic church that the O’Briens belong to attended mass on Tuesday morning, praying for the family. Father Julian Studden says everyone is having a hard time grasping that the police believe the family is dead.
“The parishioners…are very devastated. They say, ‘how can this happen in a city like ours, which is so secure and fully alive with goodness?’”
They’re now hoping for a miracle.
“That’s the little window that is open, and they are clinging on to that.”
A special memorial is being planned at the church, where Nathan was also baptized.