Calgary father asks for help in search for missing five-year-old son
Facebook photo of the O'Brien family, dad Rod, mom Jennifer, one-year-old Maximus, Nathan, 5, and Luke, 6. Police in Calgary have issued an Amber Alert for a five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents who disappeared under suspicious circumstances. Facebook/Calgary Sun/QMI Agency
It’s the biggest favour a father could ever ask — not that Rod O’Brien needs to ask.
A desperate father who just desperately wants his son to come home, O’Brien already has an entire city doing its utmost to find five-year-old Nathan and his missing grandparents.
But O’Brien asks for help anyway: “Please keep your eyes open.”
He sounds like a man fighting to stay composed, his voice fragile with stress.
The plea comes from a father in perhaps the most helpless position a parent can imagine: his son is gone, and no one seems to know where, or why.
“Everybody in Calgary, and the surrounding area, please keep your eyes open,” says O’Brien.
He then expresses gratitude for what people have done so far, and the support shown to the family, though there’s no answer yet.
“I want to thank the public for helping us,” he says.
The passing hours are agony.
On Monday afternoon, provincial officials decided to bend the rules and declare an Amber Alert for the missing child, despite not fully understanding what happened on the peaceful Parkhill street, just west of Macleod Tr.
There was no known abductor, or a vehicle description — both generally required in Amber Alerts — but evidence suggested the three people inside had been taken.
Nathan was nowhere to be found and the grandparents who’d been caring for him — Alvin and Kathryn Liknes — had vanished, too, though their vehicles were all accounted for.
It was Jennifer O’Brien who reported Nathan and her parents missing, after she arrived Monday morning to pick up her middle son from a sleepover at the grandparents’ home, and found the place deserted.
Based on evidence at the home — including signs someone or something had been dragged from a side door to the driveway, leaving a trail of dark liquid — police declared the case an abduction.
And that, apparently, is about all they are willing to conclude so far — despite a forensic unit carefully examining the home, and a visit from the medical examiner, all police can say is that the trio appears to have been taken by someone.
“We have a big mystery on our hands,” said police Insp. Keith Cain at a press conference Tuesday, where the only update was to say there really wasn’t one.
The typical factors in abduction cases — disgruntled family, or a domestic dispute — aren’t evident here.
Police say there are no custody issues with the family or the married couple’s three sons, and there is no prior history with anyone in the extended family.
And though tips have come in as a result of the Amber Alert, investigators have nothing compelling so far.
Without a lead, police are starting to hint at scenarios that makes the fate of the missing trio even more chilling, if that’s possible.
“It has been determined that the family held an estate sale at their address over the weekend. Although it is too early to determine if this had any role to play in their disappearance, police would like to hear from anyone who attended the sale.”
So reads a press release issued by police on Tuesday.
Without anything else to go on, investigators are looking at strangers who might have visited the home for the sale of couches and other furniture, advertised on Kijiji by the grandparents, who were planning to move.
“Whole house contents for sale ... moving out if the country,” reads one online ad for the estate sale.
A robbery gone bad? Like everything else so far, it’s just pure speculation — and until someone, somewhere provides the next vital clue, guessing is all anyone can do.
“It is a weird one,” said police spokesman Kevin Brookwell.