The parents of the young boy who was snatched from his home in Sparwood, B.C., last month say they met with the man charged with kidnapping their son — and they have forgiven him.
Paul and Tammy Hebert woke up on Sept. 7 to discover their three-year-old son Kienan missing from his bed in the family home.
The disappearance sparked a massive manhunt spanning two provinces for Randall Peter Hopley, 46, a local resident with a long criminal history that already included one failed attempt at child abduction.
The Heberts issued a public appeal for Hopley to return Kienan, and remarkably the child was found days later sleeping on a couch in the family home. Within days, police arrested Hopley at an abandoned cabin at a gravel quarry in nearby Alberta.
In an exclusive interview with the CBC's Ian Hanomansing, Paul Hebert revealed police asked him to meet with Hopley, face to face, immediately after his capture.
Hebert, a deeply religious man, prayed he wouldn't get angry and lash out at the man accused of kidnapping his son, as he arrived for the meeting at the local RCMP station.
"Up to the room, I was shaking, and I was worried about where it would lead up to. Then I saw him and it was a calm feeling. We were just able to talk it through," said Hebert.
The Heberts say they can't reveal details about what was said at that meeting with their son's alleged abductor until Hopley's trial is over.
Watch the full interview Sunday on The National at 9 p.m. ET, 10 p.m. PT
Paul Hebert said the opportunity to talk to Hopley allowed him to get answers to many questions he and his wife had.
Hopley has been charged with kidnapping a person under the age of 14 and is being held in custody while he undergoes a psychiatric evaluation.
Kienan's remarkable recovery
The willingness of the Heberts to forgive their son's alleged abductor comes in large part from their strong religious faith. But they concede it was also easier because Kienan does not appear to have been harmed, physically or emotionally.
"The first couple of nights with us he was a little troubled," said the boy's mother.
"In the morning, he would want to give me a little hug and he'd give a hug and say, 'You are my mom.'
"Since then he's been, he's been a normal kid and always has been."
Paul Hebert says, "I believe honestly Kienan thought he was with a friend the entire time."
"I think again it would be a different scenario if he was abused in any way or mistreated in any way. But we believe very strongly by watching the characteristics of what was going on, Kienan actually had a good time with who he was with, [and] did remarkably well."
But while the Heberts say they forgive their son's alleged abductor, they do want him to serve time in jail — not as punishment, they say, but to make sure that when he's released, he won't kidnap again.
"What does vengeance do?" Paul Hebert asks rhetorically.
"Anger feeds anger and hate feeds hate. I don't want to look at Kienan and be angry and hateful because of what happened to him every time I see him," he said.
Instead, the Heberts say when they look at Kienan they see something few would have predicted a month ago — and something that still seems hard to believe — a child kidnapping with a happy ending.