High-profile murder cases taking toll on Calgary police officers
CALGARY- While the family of a murdered Calgary couple and their five-year-old grandson have been devastated by their deaths, the case is also tough for the officers working tirelessly to bring them closure.
Police have been searching for the bodies of Alvin and Kathryn Liknes and Nathan O’Brien since they disappeared at the end of June. Douglas Garland has since been charged in their murders.
“2014 has been a very challenging year for the homicide unit,” says S/Sgt. Mike Cavilla from the Calgary Police Service. “We’re entering day 52 today, so we’re almost entering a third month of the investigation.”
The Homicide Unit has dealt with a number of high profile cases this year, including the stabbing deaths of five young adults at a house party in Brentwood.
The Liknes/O’Brien case has proved taxing, as the victims still haven’t been found.
“The lack of answers we can provide the family in relation to their loved ones Nathan, Alvin and Kathryn, each of us is impacted because we all have kids,” Cavilla explains.
“To come home and not know where your five-year-old is one day, you can’t imagine that. Even from a homicide detective that sees the worst of the worst.”
The stress and long hours are also taking a toll on their personal lives.
“Just the fact we’re not home, we’re at the office working 16-18 hour days…thank God we do have that support from CPS and our individual families to get this job done.”
That support system includes CPS Chaplain Paras Persad, who says visits to his office have tripled since the Liknes/O’Brien investigation started.
“As humans we love closure, we love to see answers,” Persad says. “Where there are open ended situations like this where there is uncertainty, questions of the heart emerge and they are looking to make sense of the invisible, the uncertain and the unknown.”
Psychological support and other health programs are also offered to CPS members.
“One thing we’ve learned is people respond to the same situation differently, and that’s OK,” says Insp. Mike Worden from the Calgary Police Human Resources Operations Section. “It’s critical our members are healthy. They’re not able to serve the people of Calgary if the members aren’t healthy.”
Despite what they’re up against, Cavilla says they continue to push for closure.
“The investigators continue to work diligently and long hours, until such time we’re able to provide answers to the family.”