Bloody footprints 'correspond' with shoes missing from Douglas Garland's home, triple-murder trial hears

Bloody footprints found at the house where a Calgary boy and his grandparents were last seen matched the shape and size of a pair of shoes missing from Douglas Garland's home, jurors at his first-degree murder trial heard Friday.

WARNING: This story contains graphic details and images that may be disturbing to some readers

This bloody shoeprint was found in the garage of a Calgary home owned by Alvin and Kathy Liknes after they were reported missing, along with their grandson Nathan O'Brien. Douglas Garland, right, is being tried on three counts of first-degree murder. (Court evidence/Canadian Press)

Bloody footprints found at the Calgary house where a boy and his grandparents were last seen matched the shape and size of a pair of shoes missing from Douglas Garland's home, jurors at his triple murder trial heard Friday.

Sgt. Lynn Gallen — a foot impression expert who has examined more than 4,000 crime scenes — was among the police officers sent to the home of Alvin and Kathy Liknes on June 30, 2014, after a 911 call about three missing persons.

Jennifer O'Brien had called after arriving at the house to pick up her son Nathan, 5, who had slept over at his grandparents' home. She found a door open, the house empty and she saw a lot of blood.

The RCMP lab identified one of the bloody footprints found at the Liknes house as being made by a Dr. Scholl shoe, Gallen told the jury on Friday, the fifth day of Garland's trial in Calgary on three counts of first-degree murder.

When police searched the farm where Garland lived with his parents near Airdrie, north of Calgary, a week after the family had gone missing, they found three shoe boxes, including one for a Dr. Scholl's Delta 2 in size 13 wide, court heard.

Normally Gallen would be given a suspect's shoes for comparison with the footprints found at a crime scene. But because none were found in the Garland case, detectives bought a pair in the same style and size from Walmart, Gallen told court.

This image of footprints was entered into evidence at the triple-murder trial of Douglas Garland. (Court exhibit)

Gallen said one of the bloody footprints in the Liknes garage lined up "very nicely" with the Dr. Scholl's shoe impression, Gallen testified.

"They do correspond in shape and size," she testified.​

Police still in 'rescue mode'

Det. Mike Shute with the Calgary Police Service testified next, saying he went through the Liknes home on July 2 with a medical examiner, trying to assess exactly what had happened inside.

Shute said at that time police were still in "rescue mode," as they knew the missing victims had likely suffered significant injuries but were still unaware of their whereabouts.

On July 4, Shute said he met with Douglas Garland's sister Patti Garland, who had contacted police about a green truck investigators had been looking for, which she said she recognized as belonging to her family.

Garland is connected to the Liknes family through Patti, who was in a common-law relationship with Alvin Liknes's son, Allen.

Shute said an emergency response team was geared up to raid the Garland residence in rural Airdrie on the evening of July 4.

Garland arrested

Garland was arrested that same evening, in a traffic stop about one kilometre south of the property.

When Shute arrived at the traffic stop, he said Garland was already in handcuffs and sitting on the side of the road.

Shute said he questioned Garland, who was sober, coherent and co-operative in his answers.

Garland was then taken to Calgary police headquarters while Shute went to the Garland property, where he said he found a burn barrel that was still smouldering.

The trial adjourned for the day after the Crown finished questioning Shute set to resume Monday morning, when the defence will cross-examine the detective.

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Tampered lock and DNA found

Court heard evidence on Thursday about drill holes in the lock on the side door at the Liknes home that allowed entry.

Earlier in the trial, Crown prosecutors told jurors they would hear evidence that Garland did computer research on the exact same lock found to have been tampered with.

Teeth were found on the floor at the Liknes home, and bones and a small tooth were found in burn barrels on the Garland farm, jurors heard earlier this week.

Forensic analysis of Garland's computer hard drive will be presented as evidence, showing someone researched topics such as "how to kill without emotion," torture and autopsies, prosecutor Vicki Faulkner told the jury earlier this week.

Jurors also heard that DNA evidence from the missing family members was found on a saw and meat hooks owned by Garland.

Through what Faulkner described as "dumb luck," a mapping plane that flew over the Garland farm on July 1 and 2, 2014, took photographs that show what the Crown believes to be three bodies in the grass of two adults and a child curled up beside them.

Lawyers Kim Ross and Jim Lutz are representing Garland. Faulkner and Shane Parker are prosecuting the case.

The trial before Court of Queen's Bench Justice David Gates and a jury of 14 people is scheduled to last five weeks.

Background on the case

After Alvin, 66, and Kathy Liknes, 53, and their grandson were reported missing, an Amber Alert was activated for the boy but cancelled two weeks later, after a massive search.

Garland, 56, was charged with three counts of murder on July 15, 2014.

Kathy Liknes, grandson Nathan O'Brien, 5, and her husband Alvin Liknes were last seen on June 29, 2014. (Calgary Police Service)

Patti, her parents and Allen Liknes have all testified that Garland harboured a grudge against Alvin Liknes after a business relationship soured years earlier.

With files from Bryan Labby