Calgary police have obtained surveillance footage and received tips that have allowed them to advance their investigation into a missing five-year-old and his grandparents.
Police have collected videotape from businesses and neighbours near the Calgary home where the trio went missing. They will not say whether suspects are on the video, but Staff Sergeant Doug Andrus said the CCTV footage has proven useful.
"We've had good information and it has assisted us with advancing this investigation," he told reporters Thursday. The police have "no suspects that we can name … but we have information that's allowed us to move forward with this investigation." He added: "Are we closer than yesterday? I would say we are."
Five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents Alvin Cecil Liknes and Kathryn Faye Liknes disappeared under suspicious circumstances earlier this week. An Amber Alert is still in effect for Nathan, and his grandparents are not suspects. His parents say he is likely not old enough to know his phone number or address.
The Liknes couple was hosting a well-advertised estate sale Sunday, and Nathan was at their home in Calgary's southwest for a sleepover that night. His mother left him there around 10 p.m., and when she returned to collect him about 10 a.m. Monday morning, he and her parents were gone.
Zoong Nguyen attended the sale. She did not see anything of value, and confirmed the Liknes couple appeared to be selling everything.
"The furniture was old," she said. "They were still using it."
The items appeared to be from the 1980s, she said, and the interior of the home had not been renovated. She did not see Nathan at the sale, although family members said he was there, badgering his grandparents to say "thank you" to people who purchased items.
Staff Sgt. Andrus said 200 to 300 people may have attended the estate sale. Police dusted for fingerprints and are trying to compile a list of what was sold against what is missing from the home. They are asking citizens who attended the sale to bring photos of the items they purchased to the Parkhill Stanley Park Community Hall in southwest Calgary, and are also asking for fingerprints from these people.
About 20 to 30 people came to the centre by Thursday afternoon, Staff Sgt. Andrus said.
The Liknes home was found in a manner inconsistent with their habits, police said. The homicide unit is investigating, although police hope to find the trio alive. About 40 officers were on the case Thursday, Staff Sgt. Andrus said. Police have expanded their door-knocking effort, he said, and have reached out to the Canada Border Services Agency, which can alert airports for missing people, as well as "partnering agencies" in the United States.
Jennifer and Rob O'Brien, Nathan's parents, made a public plea on Wednesday for information and the safe return of their family members.
Mr. and Ms. O'Brien both work at Cenovus Energy Inc., an oil sands company, in Calgary. A company spokesperson said the couple's co-workers are "very affected by this and hoping for the best."
Ms. Liknes worked as a realtor before starting Website Marketing Inc. Mr. Liknes had been involved in several business ventures, one of which was reported to have gone bankrupt.
The Liknes couple sold their Calgary home about a year ago, leased it back, and were about to go to visit Edmonton and then Mexico. They planned to then move to Edmonton, where they already had purchased a home, family members said. Staff Sgt. Andrus would not say whether the grandparents have cellphones they can track.
Nathan is three feet tall with blond curly hair and brown eyes and was last seen in peach shorts and a striped blue hoodie.
Mr. Liknes, 66, is about six feet tall, weighs 200 pounds and has grey-blond hair. Ms. Liknes, 53, is 5-foot-3, about 120 pounds, with red-brown hair and green eyes.
With a report from Allan Maki