Still no trace of B.C. boy as police seek suspect
Amber Alert extended
RCMP have extended the Amber Alert in the search for a three-year-old B.C. boy that police suspect might have been abducted from his home by a man he did not know.
Kienan Hebert vanished early Wednesday morning from the home he shared with his large family in the town of Sparwood, in southeastern B.C. near the Alberta border.
The Amber Alert states that police are searching for Randall Hopley in connection with the child's disappearance.
Hopely, 46, is believed to be driving a 1987 brown Toyota Camry with a B.C. licence 098RAL.
The RCMP have not yet said why they've labelled Hopley a "suspect," other than to suggest his criminal background was a factor.
In the mid-1980s, Hopley was convicted of sexual assault and sentenced to two years in federal prison, the National Parole Board confirmed. The board didn't have details about what happened or the age of the victim because parole records are destroyed after 10 years.
No known connection
The RCMP said Hopley has no known connection to the boy.
Amber Alert messages were broadcast throughout B.C. as far away as Vancouver, where display screens on transit buses and the city's SkyTrain system urged the public to tune into local radio stations.
RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk declined to say what led police to target Hopley.
"Putting it bluntly, amongst us we do have people that have previously been involved in criminal activity in a variety of criminal offences. ... Some of them become quite good citizens and partake in our communities and integrate back, but some don't."
Kienan's father, Paul Hebert, said he was holding out hope that his son will soon be back at home safe and sound.
"Everyone's on hand, the professionals are doing what they can do, and we just have faith that Kienan will be coming back home and safe," he told reporters Thursday morning.
"We have eight kids. Our six-year-old has had three heart surgeries, and now we deal with a kidnapped child — to me, kidnapped; he also could be lost, we won't speculate on what's going on. But we hope for the best for Kienan's safety and that he'll be home safe."
Hebert described his son as a "great kid."
"He's super happy all the time," said Hebert. "If you see him, you'll think he's a cute little button. He's just a happy kid."
Family new to B.C.
Dave Elliott, a longtime friend of the Hebert family, said the Heberts moved to Sparwood from Peace River, Alta., only about four months ago.
"The family is holding out pretty good. It's tough. It's a trying time for the parents," he said.
"All the family is here. They're all pulling together."
Elliott said everyone is praying for Kienan's safe return and Hebert is a religious person and has faith.
He said there is no regret moving into Sparwood.
"There's criminals everywhere so you can move into another town 20 minutes from here and the same thing might happen. It's a scenario and that's it. It can happen to anybody and unfortunately it happened to my friend and I'm worried about my children as well."
Dale Fedorek, who was born and raised in Sparwood, said he remembers Hopley hanging around when he was in high school.
"He was quite a bit older," said Fedorek. "In a small town, you always remember the goofy characters," said Fedorek.
"You'd just see him riding his bike around. Every day he'd be in the mall. I know he had those problems in the past a couple of years ago and that's the last I've seen of him."
Home surrounded in police tape
Kienan vanished from an upscale neighbourhood with manicured lawns, not far from a local golf course.
The family's two-storey home was surrounded by yellow police tape, with children's toys visible in the backyard. The family had congregated at a neighbour's house, with children playing outside.
In addition to the Amber Alert, police were continuing a ground search in town and the surrounding woods of the Elk Valley, which lies in the shadows of the Rocky Mountains near the Alberta-B.C. boundary.
Immediately after Kienan was reported missing, search-and-rescue officials then went into action. A police dog unit and RCMP helicopter were called in to conduct a search of the ground. A military aircraft with night-vision capabilities was also used.
Police said about 200 people were involved in the initial ground search on Wednesday, and that number had grown on Thursday.
Moskaluk has said Kienan has a history of sleepwalking, but he didn't speculate about whether that is related to the boy's disappearance. Kienan's sleepwalking has never taken him outside the home, said Moskaluk.