Thursday, July 3, 2014

Missing: Nathan O'Brien, 5

Note the emphasis of the parents upon the missing child.
Note the repeated use of his name.
Note the direct address to their son.

This is in stark contrast to some of the guilty parents we have heard make fake pleas.

A Calgary family called their missing son their superhero and asked him to stay strong as he and his grandparents remain the subject of an intensive police search. 
An Amber Alert is still in effect for Nathan O'Brien, 5, after he and his grandparents — Kathryn Liknes, 53, and Alvin Liknes, 66 — were discovered missing Monday morning.

The boy's parents, Rod and Jennifer O'Brien, spoke to media Wednesday afternoon.
Kathryn Liknes, from left, Nathan O'Brien and Alvin Liknes
The suspicious disappearance of Kathryn Liknes, far left, Nathan O'Brien, centre, and Alvin Liknes, far right, concerns police, who say they have not determined a motive. (Calgary Police Service)
"Nathan, you are our superhero right now and we’re going to bring you home very soon," said Rod O'Brien.
"To whoever has Nathan, please find it in your heart to drop off our little angel Nathan, to he can be rescued and reunited with his brothers and his family. To the public, our son and family could be anywhere right now. If you have any information, anything at all, please contact the police."
Jennifer O'Brien thanked the public for the support the family has been getting, and for the opportunity to have Nathan hear her voice.
"We can't be with you right now, but the best people that can be with you other than us is your grandparents, and I know that grandma is holding you so tightly right now," she said. 
"Stay strong, Nathan, stay strong."
As the couple spoke they were flanked by a group of people, including Jeff Liknes, the son of the missing couple, who also spoke to media.
"Mom, Dad, we want you to know that we love you so much, and we are doing everything we can to get you home safely," he said.
"Please continue to pray with us for the safe return of our parents, Alvin and Kathy Liknes, and our nephew, Nathan."

Family gone Monday morning 

Jennifer and Rod O'Brien
Jennifer O'Brien speaks to the media Wednesday, sending out a plea to her son Nathan to stay strong, as her husband, Rod O'Brien, holding a paper butterfly made by Nathan, wipes away tears. (CBC)
Nathan's mother went to pick up her son at the Liknes's home in the southwest neighbourhood ofParkhill at 10 a.m. MT Monday.
But all three were gone, and there were signs that they had not left willingly, according to police.
Nathan has blond curly hair, brown eyes and was wearing peach-coloured shorts and a striped blue hoodie when he was last seen.
His grandmother has red-brown hair and green eyes and was last seen wearing pyjamas. Alvin Liknes has grey-blond hair and was last seen wearing black sports shorts. He walks with a slight limp.
They are not considered suspects in the boy’s abduction, police say.

Estate sale customers asked to come forward

Calgary police are asking anyone who attended an estate sale that the grandparents held at their home on the weekend to come forward. 
Kathy and Alvin Liknes
Kathy and Alvin Liknes haven't been seen since Sunday night when they had their grandson Nathan O'Brien stay over at their Calgary home. (CBC)
“We would like to talk to anyone who has had contact with this family," said the Calgary police's Doug Andrus.
Investigators will be at the ParkhillCommunity Centre, located at 4013 Stanley Road S.W. on Thursday from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. MT, to speak with anyone who attended the sale. Police are asking anyone who bought something to bring a photo of the item to help investigators catalogue what was purchased and what remains at the home.
"This way we can determine if anything is missing from the residence — in other words, if anything was taken, after the sale was completed," said Andrus.
The couple had recently bought a house in Edmonton and were selling some of their things before they made the move, said Andrus. From Edmonton, the couple had been planning on heading to Mexico. 

Investigators concerned

"The longer it goes on the more concerned we are," said Andrus, who is with the homicide team.
alvin Liknes
Calgary police are asking anyone who attended a weekend estate sale put on by Alvin Liknes, above, and his wife, Kathryn, to speak with investigators. (Calgary Police Service)
"We don't know the motive behind this. Right now we have three individuals who have disappearedunder suspicious circumstances. Now, we're making progress during the course of our investigation."
Andrus said they are reviewing CCTV video near the scene, but added there are no suspects yet. 
The detective said he couldn't comment on the state of the inside of the house,
"I can tell you, though, that the forensic crime scenes unit did examine some marks on the side of the house and we're in the process of determining their relevance to the investigation," he said.
"There were marks on the side of the house that went for a distance along the side."
At this point, the Amber Alert is still active, said Andrus.
Anyone with information can call the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-8477. 

Family, police hold off on reward

"We are exploring the strategy of offering a reward with the family," said Andrus.
Earlier, it had been reported that the family was considering offering a large cash reward for information about the disappearance of the three. Calgary police Chief Rick Hanson, however, advised against it.
"I think it’s important to allow the police to do their job, let the resources be applied," he said.
Hanson said the promise of a reward could do more harm than good by promoting inaccurate information and distracting investigators. 


John Mc Gowan said...


Peter, i was wondering what you take is on this.

Airport Security Tightened Over 'Bomb Fears'

John Mc Gowan said...


I thought this is quite apt for SA.

"I like to listen.
I have learned a great deal from listening carefully.
Most people never listen."

Ernest Hemingway

Anonymous said...

Peter, did you see this? A judge dismissed the murder charge against Robert Cox so now it's going to grand jury.

ima.grandma said...
Posted in: News Posted: July 2, 2014
Louisiana Mom Gloria Elzy Arrested After She Forgets Five-Week-Old Baby Inside Car!

A 44-year-old mother of two has been arrested after she left her five-week-old baby locked inside a car. The woman, identified as Gloria Elzy, left her newborn infant inside her car for more than half an hour on a hot summer day. According to KSN, The incident happened in the parking lot outside a mall at Slidell, Louisiana at around 5 pm local time. The episode could have turned into a tragedy had it not been for a good samaritan who called 911 immediately after seeing an unresponsive baby inside the vehicle.

Police were immediately alerted about the situation. First to arrive on the scene was Officer Joshua Funck. The officer used a device to pry open the door of the car and took the baby out. He observed that the infant was sweating profusely at the time, and was not conscious. The baby was rushed to a nearby hospital where, according to doctors, he has made a full recovery and is doing fine. According to officials, the temperatures outside on the day was around 90 degrees. Inside the car, however, it could have been easily gone past an alarming hot 130 degrees – which is potentially deadly for anyone, let alone an infant.

Meanwhile, police officers and local citizens have termed the people behind the rescue – the man who alerted officials about the baby and officer Josha to be heroes. Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith said;

“If the citizen wouldn’t have immediately called Slidell Police, and Officer Funck didn’t act quickly, the baby would not have survived. They are both heroes in my book.”

Gloria Elzy was taken in to custody and, upon questioning, has revealed that she had simply forgotten about the baby being in the back seat. She claims she had just dropped off her other child and went to the mall. She has been charged with second-degree cruelty to juveniles. Upon investigation, she was also found to have not appeared for another unrelated case. A warrant against that case too has been issued against Gloria Elzy.

Meanwhile, Child Protective Service officials have taken custody of both of Gloria Elzy’s children and is also investigating the case. The age of Gloria’s older child has not been revealed.

“It’s mind-boggling to me that someone can leave, better yet, forget, about a child inside of a vehicle,” Randy Smith added.

At the time of publishing this, it is unclear if Gloria Elzy would be represented by an attorney. A bond has not been set either.

With so many instances of infants and pets being left behind in cars being reported and talked about, it is still surprising that we continue to hear about such cases on an almost daily basis.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

I just read the Happy Life of Francis Macomber this week!


ima.grandma said...
(CNN) - Snipped: While Harris' family appears to be standing by him and he's been convicted of no wrongdoing, the revelation is the latest reminder that what you do and say online can become public in unpredictable and sometimes undesirable ways:

Digital breadcrumbs are becoming as common in criminal trials as fingerprints

Fifteen or 20 years ago, the notion of taking criminal evidence from a personal computer was as novel as the technology itself. Today, it seems commonplace and all over the headlines.

Last year, for instance, authorities detailed a document called "Abducting and Cooking Kimberly -- A Blueprint," found on the computer of New York cop Gilberto Valle, and made it part of a criminal case against him. A jury convicted him, but last week a judge overturned the verdict, saying Valle's writings appeared to be little more than twisted imaginings.

And then, among the many other examples, there's Casey Anthony. Prosecutors said someone in her parents' home searched for chloroform recipes before Anthony's daughter disappeared in 2008. A jury acquitted Anthony of murder but found her guilty on lesser charges of providing false information to police.

Despite this, people are still posting incriminating things online

Just last month, New York police built a case against dozens of gang members who posted incriminating text and photos to Facebook. Two indictments in the case largely consist of details of Facebook posts in which alleged gang members talk about guns and retribution.


Vice News quoted the Rev. Vernon Williams, a neighborhood youth activist, as calling the teens "Facebook dummies."

That's not the only example. Last year, a Florida man allegedly killed his wife, then posted a picture of her body and an apology to Facebook before turning himself in to police.

And then there's Steubenville, Ohio, where two high school athletes were convicted in the rape of a 16-year-old girl chronicled in social media postings.

And they're still getting tricked

The online world is a wonderland of ill intent, with its myriad scams, frauds and trickery. Who could forget Manti Te'o, the college football player whose story of long-distance romance ending in tragedy turned out to be a hoax perpetrated by an admirer?

In June, according to, authorities charged an Alabama girl after she allegedly tried to enlist a Facebook friend to kidnap her and, if necessary, kill her aunt. Turns out, the "friend" was the aunt, who reportedly had created the fake profile in a bid to keep an eye on her troubled niece.

You should know this: The law is still changing

Yes, police can get a warrant to search your computers -- at home and work, according to the Electronic Frontier Foundation, which has a handy guide to electronic evidence on its website.

The Justice Department also maintains a manual on electronic evidence. It's meant for investigators but covers in detail what can and can't be done legally.

Investigators can even search your computer in limited cases without a warrant -- if they have good reason to think incriminating evidence will be destroyed before they can get a warrant.

Things like photos, documents and search histories on the computer and online are all fair game.

And, as we've seen, they can -- and do -- use information from social media postings. According to a 2012 report commissioned by LexisNexis, four of five police officers reported using social media in investigations.

Not only can investigators get a warrant to look at a secured account directly, a federal judge ruled in 2012 that they're free to find a willing Facebook friend of a suspect and get a look that way.

Juliette said...

I know these parents don't seem responsible for their son going missing, but why is it different when the parent speaking uses we and our when speaking to or about their son yet we flag it when a parent who seems to be lying uses these words?

Tania Cadogan said...

Hi Juliette.

It boils down to context.

When both parents are togeather and one parent speaks for the both of them then the expected is we/our.
The speaker is the voice of both parents, often you hear it from the male.
Moms, since there is a strong maternal instinct will often use i, me, my because it is such an intensely personal emotion, there is the closeness between a mother and baby.

What is unexpected is when a single person uses we, our, us in relation to the child.
rather than speaking in the personal singular and taking ownership of the child, they are speaking for more than themselves, unexpected if it is just them alone.
We, our, us indicates sharing and unity.

When there is a group of two or more and one speaks for the whole then it is appropriate and expected.

When is is one person on their own and they use we, our and us and they are speaking for themselves, then it is unexpected and to be noted.

A classic example is when a child is caught being naughty and they say things like everyone else was doing it, or we thought it was ok etc.
In this case is indicates unity and sharing of guilt or guilty knowledge and needs to be investigated further.

The same goes for words like YOU which is distancing and unexpected,
The subjects talks about how you(we) would feel , act and say rather than the expected how they themselves feel act and say.

Pronouns are instinctive, i, me and mine are probably the first ones we learn as babies( it goes to show how selfish we are :) )

When unexpected pronouns are used questions need to be asked why.
The results of which can be to clue to solve the whole case. (kate mccann in particular is a treasure trove of distancing language and sharing guilt and guilty knowledge)

Nic said...

I'm really surprised to see this analysis. When I watched the press conference I was struck at how much past tense was used in conjunction to Nathan. The mom also closes her eyes and tilts her head up (to heaven) when speaking to Nathan. The uncle and dad speak to the Nathan and the parents directly to the camera/them. I hope I'm wrong. I can never understand how a mother can hurt their kid. I'm watching this case with keen interest to see how it evolves and what the motive turns out to be. There is a lot of speculation.

Anonymous said...

Might be a copycat family abduction like the one family found deceased in the dessert after everyone accused them of everything under the sun so they could write a book. Maybe they told the wrong person at the estate sale their plans. Some people are so wrapped up in these reality murders they seem to try to out best the real murderers.

I found an article about a college student that had just graduated law school when her neighbor and fellow law student stalked, murdered, and dismembered commit the perfect crime.

Rhi said...

Like Nic, I too am surprised to see this analysis for the same reasons he mentions. When I watched the press conference yesterday, not only did the mother's physical demeanour seem oddly controlled and detached in comparison to the other family members, but her use of the past tense made my ears perk up more than once. She not only referred to Nathan in the past tense, but also Kathyrn, the relationship between Kathyrn and Nathan, and when describing how Nathan dressed etc.

Also, perhaps I've grown too cynical over the years to be objective, but I didn't see her shed one tear, unlike the father and others who were clearly distraught and sobbing.

Nic said...

Rhi, okay, so I'm not the only one. My husband and I were discussing this over dinner and he said that listening to the reports on the radio his ears "perked" at Calgary police saying that they were hopeful to find them "alive". He said that usually they'll say "unharmed" or "safe". He found it dramatic. Of course it could just be the person's vernacular.

Statement analysis aside, the other thing that sticks in my craw is that they finished three days of a garage sale. It literally sounds like they were selling everything. So why at the end of selling the contents of their house for three days are they sleeping in it that night? I know I'm projecting, but at the end of three days of a "fire sale" and being left with ?, (maybe not even a bed to sleep in,) I would have pre-booked a hotel room and enjoyed not having to contend with anything. Just show up to dinner at the hotel restaurant and veg in comfy bed and watch TV. It's just seems weird that they would be cooking dinner (and maybe not have a table to eat at) and then load the dishwasher and not watch TV (because there isn't one anymore) and retire to an empty bedroom? To me it's just weird. Or maybe I'm weird.

Anonymous said...

I agree, I was wondering why the parents and grandparents were excluded as suspects. After watching the press conference with the parents, I noticed that the mother was not at all emotional - the voice changes seemed put on. The rest of the family seemed genuine in their upset though. Praying for this little boy and still hoping for a positive outcome!

Nic said...

Anonymous, the grandparents were publicly excluded very early on. I don't recall anyone else specifically identified as being excluded. Maybe I missed this?

Rhi said...

Hi Nic, I hear ya. It's funny, sometimes it's hard to say why a case like this twigs a gut feeling things aren't as they seem, while others seem so clear cut they don't provoke much thought at all.

I haven't found any reports the police revealed anything about what was sold/not sold, or what state the house was in the next morning. A couple of people who attended the sale said there was a lot of furniture not sold as it was quite old and the house looked like it had never been renovated. So, it may be plausible they had enough stuff to spend the night and keep their grandson. Mainly I'm curious to find out who saw all three last and when, apart from Jennifer.

What bothered me most beyond Jennifer O'Brien's statement is the fact she was the last to see all three alive and the first to report them missing, and my belief that it's much rarer for a robbery to turn into a kidnapping/murder of three people, than it is to be a crime of acquaintance. That said, it also seems highly unlikely to me that one person could overpower two adults and dispose of the evidence, and there isn't a hint of any possible motive yet beyond a burglary gone wrong.

The head detective said they'd be doing another update tomorrow and I thought he hinted that they'd be revealing something new. So we'll see!

Anonymous said...

Sorry it took me a minute to find this....

Nic said...

There were reports about blood which one reporter wanted clarification about this afternoon. Calgary police wouldn't confirm either way (integrity). So maybe that is why they've used the word "alive" as opposed to "safe" or "unharmed".

Past-tense aside, the mother 'lit' at the notion that they would see Nathan again. She was positive about this. She was pointed in saying that Nathan wasn't suppose to be there. So maybe this is a case of abduction and it has to do with the parents/kijiji scam gone wrong and Nathan got caught up in the crime. Wrong place, wrong time.

Prayers for Nathan and his grampa and gramma and family. I couldn't imagine living their nightmare.

Rhi said...

Anonymous, my understanding is there was enough evidence at the house for the police to confidently say the grandparents did not leave of their own free will. A few reporters took photos and talked about a dark stain on a walkway leading from the house that looked like it'd been washed away, but until the police confirm what it is, it's impossible to say if it's "drag marks" as some are suggesting.

Nic said...

Rhi, we have a lot of life changing events at my end. We just emptied my in-law's house of 50+ years. We "kids" took care of it for my 83 y/o f-i-l. He would be very frustrated at how much was "left" whenever he would drop by. It was very overwhelming for him. I made reference to my mom's place where the four of us lived. It's just her now. Our stuff is not there, it's all her, floor to floor, corner to corner. I said to my f-i-l that my brother and I joke that when my mom dies, we're calling 1-800-Diabetes Ass'n. they will come and haul it all away (and sell it for profit). That said, maybe they had made arrangements for "someone" to come in a haul away what was left?

Yes, tomorrow will hopefully shed some light on the case. Everyone I know is talking about this case and we all say the same thing. There is just so many strange things about it. Like you said, the three of them disappearing into the night without a trace is remarkable.

Nic said...

Rhi said:
it's much rarer for a robbery to turn into a kidnapping/murder of three people, than it is to be a crime of acquaintance.

Exacty. Kijiji (and the horrible events surrounding it) is what really makes one take notice. As in, is it part of 'a set-up'? Or is this truly some third-party sicko/s casing the house and then invading it and secreting three victims.

Rhi said...

Nic, you’re right about how overwhelming those big/downsizing moves can be, and when we helped my grandparents move years ago we had a charity come and haul almost everything away. It was emotional but it made it much easier on both of them, and us.

Given the sheer number of strangers welcomed into the Likness house, there are so many possible explanations for the disappearances, and I agree with you that Kijiji could be either a “set-up” conveniently used by someone involved who is known to the family, or it could be a straight forward home invasion gone wrong. There certainly is no shortage of people victimized through the ads they place online. Also, someone planning to rob the grandparents would likely assume they’d have lots of cash on hand after a three day estate sale. I suspect this is another reason police want to interview all the people who bought items, so they can estimate how much money is/is not missing.

I'm hoping this turns out to be one of those bizarre cases with a happy ending, and you’re right too that Nathan’s father made a point of saying he wasn’t supposed to be there. This supports the idea that his disappearance is a tragic coincidence, and perhaps he will end up being returned to his family. As a mother of a small child and very close to my parents, I don’t want to imagine what this family is going through.

After watching the police update today, my sense is that it’s either Jennifer’s statement and behaviour that’s moved the investigation forward, or they have a solid lead on someone seen at or leaving the house between 10pm and 10am (witness or from all the CCTV they apparently have). The detective sure did seem confident they knew much more than they did 24 hours earlier, and he made a point of mentioning the CCTV footage several times.

Nic said...

Rhi said:
After watching the police update today, my sense is that it’s either Jennifer’s statement and behaviour that’s moved the investigation forward, or they have a solid lead on someone seen at or leaving the house between 10pm and 10am (witness or from all the CCTV they apparently have). The detective sure did seem confident they knew much more than they did 24 hours earlier, and he made a point of mentioning the CCTV footage several times.

You and I are hearing the same things the same way. I'm feeling hopeful that there will actually be a conclusion. I hope it's that Nathan and his grandparents come home "safe". God speed to them and to their suffering family.

Juliette said...

Hello Hobs, and thank you for answering my question :)

The way you explained it makes it clear and makes sense of the difference to me.

Anonymous said...

I don't know your background, but what is your opinion on this:

From what I can tell, this was posted in 2011, when Nathan already had an older brother. Then there's this:

What is it with one grandchild being singled out through two generations of his mother's family? This strikes me as odd, and makes me think of a whole lot of possibilities as to who might have taken Nathan O'Brien.

Anonymous said...

BTW, note the use of "your angel" in the obituary for Nathan's great-grandmother. That's the term used in the press conference by Nathan's dad.

I also think there's something odd about Nathan's mom and dad not directly addressing the grandparents. Mom Jennifer was closing her eyes when she talked. Was she having trouble saying what she did with conviction?

FWIW, the family ties to Evansburg are intriguing. I found evidence that an Alvin C. Liknes bought property there at the turn of the century, with an Allen J. Liknes. This area is part of the story of three missing seniors: Lyle and Marie McCann, and Jean Roelfsema. The McCanns are still missing, but Jean Roelfsema's body was found near Barriere, B.C. Then there are the Calgary missing seniors Allen and Margaret Berrington, found dead in a remote wooded area, after heading to the Grey Eagle Casino for supper. Or Otto "Bunty" Loose, whose vehicle was found parked near the Grey Eagle Casino. The answers are known only in the Bunty Loose story. All are missing or dead.

Anonymous said...

Here is how a guilty person addressed his wife:

Anonymous said...

"10/05/2011 -
Jennifer O'Brien

You are safe up there, you are everywhere, just like the sky."

Maybe explains the looking skyward?

Anonymous said...

Does Jennifer O'Brien believe her son is an angel now, with his great-grandmother?

That is the impression I get. Sad. :(

Anonymous said...

Anonymous said...

Marlene Lamar acted the same way as Jennifer O Brien. Everyone said that Marlene was acting very strangely indeed. Marlene knew all along that Sierra was dead because the cops told her that her daughter was dead. The cops asked Marlene to put on an act and she obliged them. Could be the same with Jennifer OB

Rhi said...

Anonymous, you are correct we are missing many important details, and given what the police have now stated about the evidence of violence, it's quite possible the police told the parents something ominous so that they've accepted it's likely Nathan won't be coming home. It is far too early to judge anyone, no question. However, given the emphasis on this blog and countless others on the significance of people using the past tense so early on in a missing person case, especially mothers of missing children, it took me by surprise that Jennifer's multiple slips weren't even mentioned.

If there was something in her statement or demeanour that supersedes the significance of more than one past tense faux pas, I didn't see it. Perhaps there are indeed important nuances that distinguish this difference?

It certainly looks like the police are focusing on that green truck so it's likely they have more evidence about the potential perp(s) than they're willing to share, and rightly so. I hope they get the break they need now the public has the photo, as that truck does look quite distinct.

Anonymous said...

Not for nothing, but I am a licensed mental health counselor and the mom appears to be medicated/on sedatives to me -- that would explain why some people may think she appears deceptive, is behaving bizarrely, or doing odd things with her eyes. I have seen grieving people on sedatives before and this is very similar to how they present. I would not be surprised if she had been prescribed a PRN to help her get through this incredibly traumatic time when her parents AND son are missing and likely dead or gravely injured. Can you even imagine?! I feel nothing but compassion for these two parents and the family -- no deception noted. Just my two cents.

Anonymous said...

Reading these posts, I cant believe how people are misinterpreting the poor family at the press conference. I watched the press conference, and I saw nothing deceptive from the parents. Stop being so ridiculous, until you have walked a mile in their shoes, you have no right to judge. What I saw at the press conference was a devastated family trying to cope. The obrien parents seem to have alot of integrity.

Statement Analysis Blog said...

Anonymous said...
Reading these posts, I cant believe how people are misinterpreting the poor family at the press conference. I watched the press conference, and I saw nothing deceptive from the parents. Stop being so ridiculous, until you have walked a mile in their shoes, you have no right to judge. What I saw at the press conference was a devastated family trying to cope. The obrien parents seem to have alot of integrity.
July 5, 2014 at 3:42 PM

Did you read what I wrote on the statements?

Next, you judge others for judging.


Unknown said...

still think the mom knows as watching the press coference its body language to. she gives off guilty mannerisms and her speech seems forced to show emotion vs the dad is clearly upset. I think its some twisted jelousy thing.

Anonymous said...

POI named by media, not police:

There is a family connection to the Liknes family.

Anonymous said...

Watch the family conference with the sound off and study the body language of each participant.