The man police say is a person of interest in the disappearance of three Calgarians has been released from custody on charges unrelated to that case.
Douglas Garland faces charges related to stealing an identity. The charges are unrelated to the search for three missing Calgarians – five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Alvin Cecil Liknes and Kathryn Faye Liknes, although he is a “person of interest” in their disappearance. Nathan’s mother last saw the trio June 29, at the Liknes home. When she returned the next day, they were gone.
His bail was set at $750. He must check in with supervisors, including a detective. Mr. Garland has skipped bail in the past.
The judge ordered Mr. Garland to stay at designated places, including hotels, motels and drop-in centres. He is under curfew between 9:00 p.m and 7 a.m. He does not have a passport, and can not apply for one. Mr. Garland appeared before the court via closed-circuit television from the Calgary Remand Centre. His next court appearance is August 6.
Nathan’s father, Rod O'Brien, attended Mr. Garland's hearing. He declined to comment after the case was heard. Alvin Liknes’s son, Allen Liknes, sat with him. Mr. Garland’s sister is in a common-law relationship with Allen Liknes. He also declined to comment, except for confirming his identity.
Mr. Garland, who skipped bail in the 1990s and has spent time in prison, spent the week in the Calgary Remand Centre because of the charges related to the stolen identity.
Police do not classify him as a suspect in the missing persons case, although they have questioned him as part of the investigation.
Nathan’s father has attended all three of Mr. Garland’s court appearances this week, sitting through hours of routine procedure related to other cases before getting to see Mr. Garland on the screens in the courtroom.
RCMP and Calgary Police Service search crews started searching two of Calgary’s three landfills this week. One of those searches is complete, and police on Friday said they are considering searching the city’s third landfill.
Police started their search at the end of last week at Mr. Garland’s parents’ rural property outside Airdrie. They expanded the search this week to two swamps about 500 metres from the Garland’s laneway, and a pasture about three kilometres away. They are doing grid searches and dogs and boats have been used in the search.
Airdrie is about 36 kilometres north of Calgary.
Police will not confirm whether they are looking for bodies, saying only they are are looking for “evidence.” Police say they have collected items as part of the search, but will not provide examples.
Police questioned Mr. Garland about the missing family members prior to laying the charges tied to the stolen identity. They released him prior to charging him – a move that put him back in their hands. Police say he was somewhat cooperative when they asked questions about Nathan and the Liknes couple.
Rod and Jennifer O’Brien, Nathan’s parents, spoke at a vigil in the Liknes’s neighbourhood Thursday evening. They remain hopeful their family members are still alive.
Hundreds of people attended the vigil, where Mr. O’Brien and his wife, Jennifer O’Brien, thanked people who have sent messages and food, and visited them.
“We’re very hopeful that they’re out there,” Ms. O’Brien, the Liknes’s daughter, told the crowd. “There’s no doubt in our mind. We’ve just got to find them.
“And the police are doing everything that they can do. And I know that they are on a lead, and I truly believe that they’ll figure it out.
“I’m, looking in every corner. … I’m hopeful, in every way, and we all are. So, I hope this ends out to be a happy story. Because I think it is going to.”
Police have homicide officers on the case – they did from the beginning of the investigation – but still classify the case as a missing persons investigation.
The Amber Alert for Nathan remains in place. Police have received tips related to the Amber Alert from across the country, but have said a “positive” sighting has yet to materialize.
Calgary police went to the Garland farm July 4, when they took Mr. Garland in for questioning in the missing-persons investigation. They went to the rural property after receiving a tip about a green Ford F-150 they were searching for last week. They wanted to speak with the driver of the truck, which was repeatedly spotted on CCTV footage from the Liknes’s neighbourhood the day the couple held a well-advertised estate sale.
Police then started searching the property and collected a truck matching the description of the one on the CCTV tapes. They say they remain unsure whether Mr. Garland, his parents’ property, and the truck are related to the missing persons investigation.
About 200 people attended the Liknes’s estate sale June 29. They planned to go to Edmonton after the sale, followed by a trip to Mexico, where some of their family members own vacation property. After that, they intended to move to Edmonton, where they owned a home. The pair already sold their Calgary home and were leasing it back.
Police earlier this week said 88 people who attended the sale have come forward. They were asked to provide fingerprints and bring photos of any items they purchased at the sale. Police want to compare those items against what remains in the home.
Editor's note: A previous version of this article incorrectly identified the man sitting with Rod O'Brien as Alvin Liknes's brother. In fact, it was his son, Allen Liknes.