'Everlasting loss:' Father of dead child in triple murder tells of family's pain

Published on February 17, 2017

Triple murderer Douglas Garland will learn today if he will spend the rest of his life in prison when he is sentenced in a Calgary courtroom. Garland is escorted into a Calgary police station in connection with the disappearance of Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents, in Calgary in a July 14, 2014, file photo. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jeff McIntosh

CALGARY — The father of a Calgary boy who was murdered along with his grandparents says his two remaining sons face the "everlasting loss" of their best friend.

Rod O'Brien told the killer's sentencing hearing that his sons still ask him who hurt five-year-old Nathan and why did their brother have to die.

Douglas Garland was found guilty of first-degree murder on Thursday in the deaths of Nathan O'Brien and Alvin and Kathy Liknes.

O'Brien recalled in his victim impact statement how he told Nathan he loved him before the boy went to hang out with his grandparents on June 29, 2014.

O'Brien said he and his wife will go home to only two sons for the rest of their lives.

The judge has the option of sentencing Garland to more than the 25 years usually required before someone facing a life sentence can apply for parole.

The victims' bodies have never been found — only bone fragments, burned flesh and teeth in the ash from a burning barrel on Garland's farm.

"We can't even bury them with the dignity that they deserve," O'Brien said Friday.

Bill Graveland, The Canadian Press