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Updated: Thu, 10 Jul 2014 18:58:12 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Nathan O'Brien Amber Alert: 'Hopeful' police expand search to 2nd landfill

Nathan O'Brien, centre, and his grandparents, Kathy and Alvin Liknes, have not been seen since Nathan's mom left the Liknes' home the night of June 29, 2014. Calgary Police Service

Nathan O'Brien, centre, and his grandparents, Kathy and Alvin Liknes, have not been seen since Nathan's mom left the Liknes' home the night of June 29, 2014. Calgary Police Service

As the search for a missing Calgary family enters its 11th day, it has expanded from a rural acreage in the region to a second city landfill, police say. 

Five-year-old Nathan O'Brien and his grandparents, Alvin and Kathy Liknes, were last seen at their home June 29 after hosting an estate sale. Police say that evidence suggests a violent altercation occurred at the home and that at least one person may have left in medical distress. 

An Amber Alert, used to publicize child abductions, remains in effect, Calgary Police Service spokesperson Kevin Brookwell said Thursday afternoon. 

"It is a significant investigative strategy as part of this file," Brookwell said.

"We are hopeful that we will find them alive, and there is nothing to indicate otherwise." 

In what police say is a routine procedure, they asked all three Calgary area landfills to segregate any waste that has come in since the disappearance, Brookwell said. 

Search teams moved to the East Calgary Landfill in the city's southeast Thursday morning. On Wednesday, police began searching the Spyhill Landfill in northwest Calgary. Until then, the search had been confined to the rural acreage in Airdrie, north of Calgary.  

Acreage was site of 1990s drug lab

At the acreage, which belongs to the parents of Douglas Garland, the only person of interest in the case,flammable and dangerous chemicals have been found, police said.

"We don’t know if it’s chemicals that are part of a typical farm operation or chemicals that could be used for something else," Brookwell said. 

"So, until we know what those chemicals are, we can’t say and it’s too early to speculate what those may be or what they be used for."

In 1992, Garland was caught making amphetamines at the acreage. He was charged with drug trafficking, possession of stolen property and identity theft, among other things. 

Relationship between missing man, person of interest 

Winter Petroleum, a junior gas company, which was owned by Liknes, went bankrupt near the end of June — just days before the family went missing. 

Several investigators are looking into the business relationship between Garland and Alvin Liknes, police say. 

"There are some business issues that we are looking into. I can't get into specifics about what these are and who was involved, what they look like or how many people were involved. But yes, we have got a number of people who are looking into that," Brookwell said. 

A source close to the police investigation told CBC News there is "bad blood" related to money between the two. 

A source also told CBC News that police believe the dispute may have been over a patent. Liknes had registered a patent for an apparatus that separates gas from water.  

There's another connection between the two families, as Alvin Liknes's son was in a common-law relationship with Garland’s sister. 

Garland, 54, has been in custody since last Friday on a charge of identity theft unrelated to the missing family investigation. He faces charges of identity theft and unlawfully possessing a bank card.

He is expected back in court Friday when he could be released on bail.

Vigil tonight 

A vigil will be held tonight at the Parkdale Community Centre, which is just 100 metres from the family's home, says organizer Brent Bedford. 

People are "constantly" stopping by the centre to lend support to each other in light of the disappearance of the Likneses, said Bedford. 

“They were always pillars of our community for over 20 years,” he said. 

“They are always willing to help and volunteer for any event that is community related." 

Police are still asking anyone who was at the estate sale the Likneses held on June 27, 28 and 29 to come forward. 

Anyone with information about the case can call the Calgary Police Service at 403-266-1234 or Crime Stoppers anonymously at 1-800-222-8477.

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