A man described as a “person of interest” in a massive police investigation of three missing people in Calgary made an appearance by video in court Monday morning, and was ordered held in custody until Wednesday on an unrelated matter.
Douglas Garland, who is in his 50s, lives with his parents on a rural property northeast of Airdrie, Alta., according to a neighbour. He was taken away by police Friday night, the neighbour said. Police later said they questioned a man from the Airdrie residence in relation to the disappearance of five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents.
Police took over the Garland property on the weekend, combing it as part of their probe into the missing persons case. By Sunday, officers were surveying a swampy area about 500 metres from the Garlands’ laneway. At least one police dog and a helicopter were involved in the search near the large slough, and officers brought a boat to the side of the road. A search continued on the property Monday morning, according to local news reports.
Mr. Garland remains a “person of interest” in the disappearance of Nathan and his grandparents, Alvin Cecil Liknes and Kathryn Faye Liknes. Police will not confirm whether the person they questioned over the weekend is Mr. Garland.
His court appearance Monday morning before before provincial court judge Mark Tyndale was on another matter. Mr. Garland appeared briefly by video, saying he had not yet spoken with duty counsel. Eventually the matter was adjourned until Wednesday.
Rod O'Brien, Nathan's father, was in the courtroom. Wearing jeans, sneakers and a black and orange shirt, he sat through over an hour-and-a-half of routine court proceedings unrelated to Mr. Garland's brief appearance.
A bail hearing for Mr. Garland is now scheduled for Wednesday. He will remain in the Calgary Remand Centre until then.
Nathan and the Liknes couple disappeared some time between 10 p.m. last Sunday night and 10 a.m. last Monday morning. Police said a “violent crime” took place inside the Liknes home prior to their disappearance, and that at least one person is likely in “medical distress” because of the incident. There was no sign of forced entry into the Liknes home.
Police raided the Airdrie property after someone recognized the green Ford F-150 pickup truck they were searching for. Calgary Police Service said the truck they collected at the farm appears to match the one they captured in surveillance footage in the Liknes couple’s neighbourhood the day they disappeared.
Mr. Garland has a family connection to the Liknes couple, the Calgary Herald reported. His sister, the newspaper said, is in a common-law relationship with a Liknes family member.
Mr. Garland has a police history, suffers from attention deficit disorder, and has had multiple breakdowns, according to a court document written by a judge in 2005.
“Mr. Garland attended medical school in Alberta for one year until he suffered a breakdown. He also seems to have been traumatized by causing what he described as a horrific accident due to falling asleep at the wheel,” Justice Campbell J. Miller wrote in a tax-court decision in 2005.
Mr. Garland produced his own amphetamines, the judge wrote, noting this “came to the attention of the” RCMP. The Mounties raided the Garland farm in 1992 and their son was charged as a result of the crackdown. Mr. Garland was released on bail and then skipped the province, the judge wrote. He moved to Vancouver and took on the identity of Matthew Kemper Hartley, a deceased person, the document said. Mr. Garland applied for a social insurance number and driver’s licence using this name.
Under the alias, Mr. Garland worked for four years at a laboratory in B.C. He claimed to have a bachelor of science degree and started out testing pesticides and organic compounds. He later became a supervisor of about 30 people. Mr. Garland was unable to cope, the judge wrote, and “suffered another breakdown” in 1997. He was dismissed.
Mr. Garland then found work at the British Columbia Institute of Technology, but in May of 1999, he was arrested. He pleaded guilty to charges related to drugs and his assumed identity, and served time in prison.