Missing family: Police comb through landfills and rural home

CALGARY – Officers were on scene searching a southeast landfill on Thursday, in hopes of finding a new lead in the mysterious disappearance of a Calgary family.

Five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes, were reported missing on Monday, June 30th, sparking an Amber Alert.

Timeline: Missing Calgary family Nathan O’Brien, Alvin and Kathryn Liknes

Officers have spent countless hours scouring several locations, and as the search entered its 11th day, they turned their attention to landfill off of 17 Avenue and 68 Street S.E. The day before, police had combed through the Spy Hill Landfill in northwest Calgary.

They say it’s routine procedure, as they look for anything relevant to their investigation.

“Shortly after the disappearance, we made contact with the three landfill sites and asked that all refuse that going to those landfill sites be segregated off,” explained Kevin Brookwell from the Calgary Police Service. “There are items that have been taken from the landfill sites, but we’re working to determine their relevance…there is quite a quantity of refuse to go through.”

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Additional search teams remain at the scene of a rural home in Airdrie, which became an area of interest last week. Around 11 a.m. on Thursday, the RCMP explosives disposal unit from Edmonton could be spotted parked in the area.

“I can confirm that a quantity of chemicals has been located at the Airdrie property,” Brookwell said, adding it’s too early to speculate what the chemicals are. “We’re taking precautions at the site for the officers conducting the search.”

54-year-old Douglas Garland lives on the property, and has been named as a person of interest in the case. He has been held in police custody on unrelated charges, but is expected to be granted bail on Friday.

Garland has links to the Liknes family, and was partners with Alvin Liknes in a business deal that went bad.

“We are aware of some business issues concerning the family, so we have investigators looking into that.”

Officers are going door to door at neighbouring acreages asking residents to do a thorough check of their properties. Rural property owners, including businesses, are asked to do the same. They also hope that approximately 100 people who were at an estate sale at the Liknes home will come forward.

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“We’re frustrated that about half of the folks from the estate sale still haven’t come forward,” Brookwell said. “We’d still really like anybody who hasn’t talked to us yet who was at the estate sale to call us.”

A candlelight vigil for the missing family will be held at the Parkhill Community Centre at 8:30 p.m. on Thursday.

“They’re devastated,” Brookwell says, of the Liknes and O’Brien families. “This is unfathomable what they’re going though. I know there are folks that are rallying behind them.

“Everybody is watching this closely, everybody wants to help…that’s typical of Calgary.”

Nathan’s parents, Rod and Jennifer O’Brien, both work for Cenovus. The company says it is giving them all the time they need, and issued the following statement:

“Our thoughts are with Rod and Jennifer O’Brien at this very difficult time. We’re all praying for the best outcome.

We continue to offer whatever support we can to Rod and Jennifer, who are both employees of Cenovus. That includes offering a range of counselling services available through our Employee and Family Assistance Plan.

Most importantly, we want to make sure that Rod and Jennifer take the time they need, without having to worry about work, to focus on themselves and their loved ones right now.

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As you can imagine, this has had an impact on many of us at Cenovus, particularly those who work closely with Rod and Jennifer. We are also making support and counselling services available to anyone else at the company who needs it.”