While the justice system slowly deals with the man accused of kidnapping a three-year-old British Columbia boy, the boy’s parents have swiftly moved ahead with their own singular sense of forgiveness.
Paul Hebert, whose son, Kienan, mysteriously vanished in September from his bedroom in his Sparwood home and was returned just as improbably four days later, has already met the man accused in the abduction. He also fulfilled a promise to that man, Randall Hopley, who has a history of targeting children, to visit his distressed, elderly mother, Margaret Fink.
Mr. Hebert gave her a card, a family photograph and offered his support to her, as well as her troubled son.
“Their family is embarrassed,” Mr. Hebert said, “we don’t blame the whole family for what one person has [allegedly]done.”
Mr. Hopley, 46, is scheduled to appear by video in a Cranbrook, B.C. court Wednesday morning. He faces charges of breaking and entering with intent to commit an indictable offence, kidnapping and abduction of a person under the age of 14. But for the past two months, he has undergone a court-ordered psychiatric evaluation to determine if he could be deemed not criminally responsible due to mental disorder and whether he is fit to stand trial.
William Thorne, Mr. Hopley’s lawyer, said he expected the case will be adjourned and a new date set.
Mr. Hebert said the RCMP contacted him on Sept. 13, the day Mr. Hopley was taken down by a police dog in an Alberta quarry after a week on the run, to offer a meeting with the accused. Since the case is now in court, Mr. Hebert declined to provide details, but said he did forgive Mr. Hopley.
“I also told him that if I could, I’ll be out there to help him,” Mr. Hebert recalled.
During the meeting in a Cranbrook RCMP interrogation room, the men also talked about how the case has not just devastated one family, but two.
“I said, ‘Your mother loves you. You understand that right?’ She’s a mother. She’s going to love her son no matter what and she’s hurt,” Mr. Hebert said.
“I said, ‘You owe it to your mother as well. What I can do for you is I can go talk to your mother and just tell her that you love her. Do you want me to do that?’ And he said, ‘Yes.’ ”
For Mrs. Fink, Mr. Hebert’s recent visit to her Fernie, B.C., bungalow came as a touching surprise. She framed the photo, which was taken after Kienan was reunited with his family, and has the card on display. She also cherished the handwritten note inside.
“We understand your pain and we just want to say hi, we are here for you,” it read.
“We hope and pray that Randy will be okay and that he finds God through his ordeal. Randall understands his love for you and that he was truly sorry. Please find it in your heart to also forgive him as we have.”
Mrs. Fink, who handed Mr. Hebert a rubber dinosaur to give to Kienan, said she hasn’t had a chance to speak with her son since his arrest. She’s worried, but was relieved to learn about Mr. Hebert’s visit.
“It sounds like Randy needed somebody to be a friend for him,” Mrs. Fink said.
She said residents in the region have been charitable to her family despite the shocking allegations.
“A lot of people have been behind me,” she added, “so it’s not too bad.”