Police conducted a frantic search of Douglas Garland’s family farm in hopes of rescuing a Calgary couple and their grandson who had disappeared days earlier, court heard Friday. But Calgary police homicide Det. Mike Shute, who helped arrange the raid by the RCMP’s emergency response team, said no one was found, dead, or alive, during the July 4, 2014, search.
Shute said the warrantless search was conducted because police believed they might have found Alvin and Kathy Liknes, and their grandson Nathan O’Brien, inside.
Garland, 56, is charged with first-degree murder in connection with the June 30, 2014, disappearance of the couple from their Parkhill home along with the five-year-old boy.
Their bodies have never been found.
Shute told Crown prosecutor Shane Parker the search was considered a potential rescue mission and occurred after he placed Garland under investigative detention for kidnapping after he was grabbed in a traffic stop near his property.
It followed a tip initiated by Garland’s sister, Patti, that her brother drove a green Ford F-150 pickup similar to one caught on video surveillance near the scene of the Liknes’ home.
Patti Garland earlier testified she sent photos of the truck to her then-common law husband, Allen Liknes, the son of the missing grandfather.
After Shute met with Patti Garland at an Airdrie park he went to the local RCMP detachment to arrange for the emergency response team to raid the rural farm.
Before the search was conducted, Mounties stopped Garland in his pickup truck near the property before Shute dealt with the then-kidnapping suspect.
“His demeanour was fine … and he was cooperative at the time,” said Shute of the accused.
After the unsuccessful search for victims Shute took continuity of the 16-hectare farm after a debrief from an RCMP corporal.
The Calgary officer was told “there was a burn barrel still smouldering on the property,” and a bag was found containing a billy bat and handcuffs.
It’s the Crown’s theory Garland kidnapped the three victims, took them to his farm and murdered them there.
In her opening address, co-prosecutor Vicki Faulkner said Garland’s motive for the crime was a years’ old grudge he had against Alvin Liknes for not giving him credit for a pump the deceased had patented in the early 2000s.
Meanwhile, court also heard from a footwear expert who examined partial bloodied footprints found inside the Liknes home.
Sgt. Lynn Gallen said she compared the prints to a pair of size 13 Delta 2 Dr. Scholl’s runners purchased by police at a Walmart store.
The shoes were bought after police found an empty shoe box inside the Garland home for that product.
Gallen found at least nine, and possibly 10, partial prints in the residence, primarily near a set of bloodstained dumbbells in the garage.
She showed the three-woman, 11-man jury a series of powerpoint slides showing the footprints matched the treading on the bottom of the shoes.
But under cross-examination by defence lawyer Kim Ross, Gallen agreed no such shoes were found at the Garland residence.
Gallen also said they eliminated all shoes found at the accused’s home as being the ones that made the bloody prints.
Week two of the five-week trial begins Monday.