The parents of a Calgary boy who disappeared, along with his grandparents, issued an emotional appeal for the trio’s safe return Wednesday, saying their son is the “glue in our family.”

At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, five-year-old Nathan O’Brien’s father, Rod, tearfully asked that “whoever has Nathan, to find it in your heart to drop off our little angel … to where he can be rescued and reunited with his family.”

Rod O’Brien also spoke directly to his son, saying that they were doing everything in their power to get him home.

“Your whole family loves you to every star and back,” Rod said, flanked by his wife Jennifer and several family members. “You are our superhero right now and we’re going to bring you home very soon.”

Police have issued an Amber Alert and are asking for the public’s help in their search for Nathan and his maternal grandparents, Kathryn and Alvin Liknes.

Nathan was staying with his grandparents at their southwest Calgary home overnight Sunday. When his mother went to the house on Monday morning, they were all gone. Calgary police said evidence found at the grandparents’ home suggests their disappearance “may be suspicious,” and that there were signs the grandparents and the boy “did not leave on their own volition.”

The grandparents were in the process of moving out of their home and held an estate sale over the weekend before their disappearance. Nathan was at the house during the estate sale Sunday, his parents said, and he slept over at his grandparents’ house afterward.

Staff-Sgt. Doug Andrus said at the news conference that police are now asking anyone who purchased an item from the home on June 28-29 to bring a photo of the item to a local community centre Thursday, “so investigators can determine what items were purchased during the sale, compared to what remains in the home.”

“We just want to make sure that we’re aware of what was sold, and this way, we can determine if anything is missing from the residence,” Andrus told reporters. “In other words, if anything was taken after the sale was completed.”

Andrus would not comment on the condition of the house, but did say police have examined marks “that went a distance” along the side of the house, and are in the process of determining their relevance to the investigation.

Andrus said police are receiving tips from across the country. He also said police are in the process of reviewing CCTV video obtained from the neighbourhood.

At the news conference, Jennifer O’Brien tearfully urged her son to stay strong, and said he is loved “more than anything in this world.”

“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 grandma’s holding you so tightly right now and taking care of you and they are doing everything in their power to keep you safe.”

The family also said Wednesday that they are looking into a possible award for the safe return of the trio, as part of the investigation.

Earlier, Calgary Police Chief Rick Hansen cautioned against the move, telling a local radio station that a reward offer could lead to bogus tips and create more work for police. At the news conference, Andrus confirmed that police are “exploring” the option with the family.

An Amber Alert remains in effect as the search for Nathan and his grandparents continue.

Investigators are looking for:

  • Nathan O’Brien, 5, who is described as Caucasian, approximately 3-feet tall with blond, curly hair and brown eyes. He was last seen wearing peach-coloured shorts and a striped blue hoodie.
  • Alvin Cecil Liknes, 66, who is described as Caucasian, 6-feet-tall, 200 pounds, with a slim build and grey/blond hair. Police say he has a distinctive walk.
  • Kathryn Faye Liknes, 53, who is described as Caucasian, 5-foot-3, 120 pounds with red/brown hair and green eyes.

Anyone with information about this case is urged to call 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers anonymously by calling 1-800-222-8477, visiting, or texting tttTIPS to 274637.

With files from The Canadian Press