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Police officers in Mexico in missing Liknes family case

Douglas Garland is escorted into a Calgary police station in connection with the disappearance of Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents in Calgary, Alta., on July 14, 2014. The Crown has stayed identity theft charges against a man accused of murder in the deaths of a five-year-old Calgary boy and his grandparents. Garland was initially charged with identity theft in a matter unrelated to the disappearance of Nathan O'Brien and Alvin and Kathy Liknes in June.


Police investigators are in Mexico as part of an ongoing investigation into the disappearance of a five-year-old boy and his grandparents.

The bodies of Nathan O'Brien and Alvin and Kathy Liknes have not been recovered since the three disappeared from the couple's Calgary home on June 29, but police have laid three murder charges.

The couple had been having an estate sale that weekend as they downsized ahead of a move to Edmonton and then to a residence in Mexico.

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On the Sunday, five-year-old Nathan came over to help his grandparents with the sale and spent the night.

With blond hair and a cherub face, Nathan was wearing peach-coloured shorts that day, and a blue hoodie. He was just learning to print and had one older brother and one younger brother.

More than 200 people walked through the home during the sale, and bought much of what the couple owned.

The Liknes home is in Parkhill, a small enclave of only a few streets tucked between one of southwest Calgary's main arterial roads, the Macleod Trail, and the Elbow River.

The area is a mix of homes only a few minutes from downtown.

The next morning, Jennifer O'Brien came by the home to pick up her son. No one was there and things were not as they should have been.

Police issued an amber alert on June 30. According to police, there were signs the three did not leave willingly. Something had been dragged from a side door to the driveway, leaving a dark trail.

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A police spokeswoman confirmed on Tuesday that officers are in Mexico.

"It's just making sure that all the avenues are covered. There's nothing to it other than just crossing t's and dotting the i's," said Calgary police spokeswoman Emma Poole.

"We're not going to get into details of how long they've been down there, where they are or how many went."

Douglas Garland, 54, is facing two charges of first-degree murder and one count of second-degree murder.

The first-degree murder charges are in connection with the Liknes couple, while the second-degree charge is related to Nathan's death.

Police lay first-degree murder charges when they believe they can demonstrate "preintent," Calgary Police Chief Rick Hanson said when the charges were laid. They apply second-degree murder charges when "preintent – the intent to commit the act – may not be there."

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Mr. Garland was initially considered a person of interest in the case and was held on an identity theft charge unrelated to the disappearance of the trio.

Police alleged he was using that identity again when they brought him in for questioning in the missing persons case. That charge has been stayed by the Crown.

Throughout early July, police searched the fields around the home near Airdrie, Alta., where Mr. Garland lived with his parents.

Teams also picked through Calgary's municipal dumps. The searches continued until July 13. Mr. Garland was arrested very early the next day on the porch in Airdrie. On July 15, Mr. Garland was charged with three counts of murder.

Mr. Garland is scheduled to return to court next week on the murder charges. His sister, Patti, was in a common-law relationship with Alvin and Kathryn Liknes's son Allen.

With reports from Globe staff

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