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The Globe and Mail

Close family connection established with ‘person of interest’ in missing Calgary boy case

In this artist's sketch, Douglas Garland appears in court in Calgary on Monday, July 7, 2014.


Douglas Garland, the man police call a "person of interest" but not a suspect in the disappearance of three Calgarians, underwent psychological tests as part of an application for parole14 years ago, with officials deciding it was unlikely he would act violently toward others.

The psychological assessment was administered ahead of a hearing for early parole in June, 2000, reveal records provided to The Globe and Mail by the Parole Board of Canada.

Then 40, Mr. Garland was sentenced to 39 months in prison earlier that year for manufacturing illegal drugs at his parents' acreage in the early 1990s. Calgary Police Service and the RCMP are now combing through that property, two nearby swamps and a pasture, as part of their investigation into the disappearance of five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents, Alvin Cecil Liknes and Kathryn Faye Liknes. The three were last seen by the child's mother last Sunday.

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Calgary police said a "violent crime" occurred in the Liknes home prior to the trio going missing. Investigators, police said Monday, are following leads in addition to their focus on Mr. Garland. He lives with his parents on the acreage, neighbours say, and police said he was somewhat co-operative when they took him in for questioning.

In the 1990s, Mr. Garland also faced two charges of possessing a weapon and a charge of assault, but they were either dismissed, withdrawn or stayed.

His psychological assessment for the parole application found he posed "little violence potential to others," and Correctional Service of Canada concluded he was "unlikely to commit a violent offence."

In deciding to grant him early release from prison, the parole board ordered Mr. Garland to receive psychological counselling to address mental-health concerns.

"While the weapons and assault charges are indicative that you may commit a violent offence, given that you are 40 years of age and have never incurred a conviction of violence and in the absence of documented indicators of a propensity for violence, there are no reasonable grounds to believe release is likely to result in a violent crime prior to warrant expiry date," the parole board wrote in its June 19, 2000, ruling.

In a follow-up report in October, 2000, the board noted Mr. Garland's mental health had stabilized. With continued monitoring from mental-health professionals, he was deemed a "manageable risk."

Police released Mr. Garland, 54, after questioning him about Nathan and the Liknes couple over the weekend. However, they then charged him with identity theft and he is being held at the Calgary Remand Centre. He will be back in court Wednesday.

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Mr. Garland has a close connection to the Liknes clan. His sister, Patti Garland, is in a relationship with Mr. Liknes' son Allen, according to a relative who did not want her name used.

Roughly 100 officers are working on the case and police and RCMP are searching an area that measures several square kilometres. The Amber Alert for Nathan is still in effect and police said there is no indication that he or his grandparents are dead.

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About the Author

Carrie Tait joined the Globe in January, 2011, mainly reporting on energy from the Calgary bureau. Previously, she spent six years working for the National Post in both Calgary and Toronto. She has a master’s degree in journalism from the University of Western Ontario and a bachelor’s degree in political studies from the University of Saskatchewan. More

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