News / Canada

Family of Calgary couple and their five-year-old grandson still feeling pain

Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents Kathy and Alvin Liknes are shown in Calgary Police Service handout photos. The family of a Calgary couple and their grandson who disappeared two years ago has issued a statement days before a suspect goes to trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Calgary Police Service MANDATORY CREDIT

Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents Kathy and Alvin Liknes are shown in Calgary Police Service handout photos. The family of a Calgary couple and their grandson who disappeared two years ago has issued a statement days before a suspect goes to trial. THE CANADIAN PRESS/HO-Calgary Police Service MANDATORY CREDIT

CALGARY — Family members of a couple and their grandson who disappeared two years ago say they are bracing themselves as a suspect's murder trial is set to begin. 

Douglas Garland, 56, was arrested after Alvin and Kathy Liknes and five-year-old Nathan O'Brien disappeared in Calgary in June 2014.

He faces three counts of first-degree murder in a five-week trial that is to begin Monday.

"It has been 2 1/2 years since Nathan, Alvin and Kathy were taken from us. Our pain has not lessened during this time," reads the statement from Rod and Jennifer O'Brien and other family members. 

"The next five weeks of this trial will be very difficult for us. We can only hope that at the end of this gruelling time we will find justice for Nathan, Alvin and Kathy."

The family also expressed gratitude for the support it has received from the people of Calgary and from Canadians across the country.

Rod and Jennifer O'Brien are Nathan's parents and Jennifer is the Liknes's daughter.

A jury of 11 men and three women is to begin hearing evidence Monday.

Nathan had been at an impromptu sleepover with his grandparents after they held an estate sale at their Calgary home before a move to Edmonton and then Mexico.

When his mother arrived to pick him up the next morning, no one was home.

Police have said there was evidence of a violent encounter in the house, but have not disclosed a motive.

Investigators combed through several properties surrounding the area near Airdrie, north of Calgary, where Garland lived for two weeks before he was arrested and charged.

Garland had connections to the family. He had past business dealings with Alvin Liknes and Garland's sister was in a common-law relationship with Liknes's son.

The Crown says it will call between 50 and 60 witnesses.

— Follow @BillGraveland on Twitter

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