Monday, June 29, 2015
Updated: Kathy Liknes
KATHY LIKNES WAS ONE OF THE CANADIAN INTELLIGENCE AGENTS WE MET IN 2009
Kathy Liknes was one of the agents we met in 2009. She offered to help us and offered us 250,000 dollars for the abuse my wife and kids and I suffered from Canadian intelligence if we stayed in Ontario and worked with her. We spent the day with her but we didn’t trust her offer at that time. They silenced her in 2014 and police still haven’t found her body yet. Police say they know she was murdered and they have a suspect in custody. We have spoken with the police and we have let them know what we know about meeting her and the offer she gave to us. The death toll is rising and we still have not been offered any protection against further assasination attempts from Canadian intelligence. Thanks for reading. Follow the money.
Valerie Fortney, Postmedia News
Parents of missing Calgary boy shed light on private struggles and honouring their lost child’s legacy
For the past four months, Rod O’Brien has been treading water.
“It’s like we were hit by a tsunami,” he says. “You crawl back on to the beach and look around — and there’s devastation everywhere. I can’t believe I have to stand up and start cleaning up.”
The 40-year-old is justified in using such dramatic imagery to describe his recent travails.
On June 30, his parents-in-law Kathy and Alvin Liknes disappeared from their southwest Calgary home, along with five-year-old Nathan, his middle boy of three.
Nathan, a gregarious and happy child with a penchant for wearing superhero costumes everywhere, had been sleeping over at his grandparents’ after helping them run an estate sale the day prior.
The child’s disappearance over the Canada Day long weekend triggered a two-week Amber Alert, the longest in Canadian history, along with a several-days search of the rural acreage where 54-year-old Douglas Garland — the man now charged in their deaths — lived with his elderly parents.
The happy ending so many hoped for was dashed on July 14, when Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson announced that, although they could not find their bodies, they were confident the three were dead.
They also announced first-degree murder charges against Garland in the deaths of Kathy and Alvin Liknes and a charge of second-degree murder in the death of Nathan O’Brien. Garland, whose sister is in a common-law marriage with one of Alvin’s sons, was said to have had business dealings in the past with Alvin Liknes.
While the mystery of what happened to the trio made headlines around the world, it captured the hearts of Canadians from coast to coast, with thousands lighting candles on doorsteps and releasing green balloons as a gesture of hope. An online fundraising campaign (gofundme.com/aygrpk), started by family friend Greg Head also raised more than $50,000 for the bereaved family to cover funeral costs and lost work revenue.
Along with all those near and far that buoyed their spirits through those darkest days, Rod and his wife Jennifer O’Brien have recently been lifted by one of those strangers who was swept up in the tragedy. His gift of $1 million over the next four years, in fact, has helped make possible the Nathan O’Brien Children’s Foundation, a private trust charity.
“When we first heard about him we were preparing for Nathan’s funeral in September,” says Rod of the American donor who would like to remain anonymous. “I thought it was $250,000, which was amazing. Then, when it turned out to be $250,000 a year for four years, it was unbelievable.”
The happy news has prompted the O’Briens to sit down for their first full interview since the tragedy unfolded last June. On Monday, they open their home — and their hearts — to this writer, to shed light on their private struggle during a most public tragedy, along with their hopes to honour their lost child’s legacy by helping underprivileged children for generations to come.
Every nook and cranny of the cosy two-storey duplex, its front yard boasting a giant inflatable witch for Halloween, speaks to a life focused on children. The kitchen fridge is covered with photographs of young faces. The recreation room downstairs is jammed with toys and a large race track; while the living room mantle has framed photographs of Nathan, his baby brother Max, 2, and oldest brother Luke, 12, Rod’s child from a previous marriage. Outside, a backyard trampoline sits empty.
On the wall facing the staircase, three beautiful, blond-mopped boys smile out from more framed photos. “Instead of fighting, they’d get into bed and hug and kiss one another,” says Rod of their boys. “You’ve never seen such cuddlers.”
At the top of the stairs is Nathan’s room, left untouched after a full summer without his bubbly presence. On the wall facing his Lightning McQueen bed — its red bed frame fashioned into a race car — is a life-size decal of The Incredible Hulk; beside the bed, a fish tank and along one wall a book shelf crammed with board games, Lego and plastic dinosaurs.
“Look, he always wore his shoes on the wrong foot,” says Jennifer, 34, with a laugh as she points to Nathan’s kindergarten class photo. “So gorgeous.”
They talk about Nathan often, to one another and to his brothers. “We put on a brave face, make sure that they’re going to be healthy and happy,” says Rod. “I can’t take hope away from them.”
Hiding their grief and despair, though, is a full-time job for the parents who fell in love almost on first sight when they met eight years ago at the oil and gas company where both worked. “The week before they went missing, I updated my Instagram,” says Jennifer, a native Calgarian. “I said, ‘Dear God, I don’t want to ask for anything. I just want to say thank you for everything I have.’”
For Rod, currently on leave from his job as an accountant for oil company Cenovus, it’s not having the boy who would have turned six on Sept. 21 rush to him at the door for one of his famous running hugs. “Honestly, when I hugged him, I would squeeze him and he’d let out a sound from heaven,” says the native of Regina whose late father, Kenneth, was an RCMP officer. “He’d pull on my ears, he had a bit of an ear fetish.”
While they speak openly about Nathan and his grandparents with tear-filled pride, they tread carefully around the case currently before the courts. Jennifer, who never knew her biological father — “I heard he passed away a few years ago” — was raised by Alvin Liknes from the age of six and calls him dad.
“I never even knew Doug Garland existed and I highly doubt my mom did, either,” she says. “Sometimes it hits you so hard, and you can’t even breathe. You think I can’t make it through, I can’t do this.”
For Rod O’Brien, not seeing his loved ones’ bodies continues the torment. “Where is Nathan? Where is he? Just tell us where he is,” he says, breaking down as he makes his plea. “He is between here and there. Every night, that’s what I think about.”
“The battle is waking up and trying not to be angry and hateful and talk in a negative manner,” says Jennifer, who admits she still finds herself driving by the home in Calgary’s Parkhill neighbourhood where she grew up, the last place she saw her family. “Every day, I’m trying to keep that darkness away.”
The support from all over the world, they say, has let some light shine in. “We’ve heard from people from Syria, Africa,” says Rod. “We have some soldiers that pull us through — there’s no way we can thank people enough.” Closer to home, both say, their church, their friends, their community has carried them through the painful journey of saying final goodbyes and begin a still shaky walk on solid ground.
A big part of that includes working on the Nathan O’Brien Children’s Foundation, which will disperse its first $40,000 in funds to help needy children in the coming months. “Helping other people will help us heal,” says Rod.
“Now we can do good for others, for other children in the name of our son,” says Jennifer, who is letting her boys, along with young friends Carolyn and Courtney Head, help choose this year’s recipients. “It’s a really beautiful thing.”