A three-year-old boy abducted from his bed in Sparwood has been found safe and sound after his captor returned him to his own home.
Police received an anonymous 911 call around 3 a.m. local time Sunday morning and were told where to find little Kienan Hebert.
“This young boy was returned by an abductor. In 26 years of policing I have never seen this,” said an emotional RCMP Cpl. Dan Moskaluk. “The little guy appears to be in good health. Little guys like this are very resilient. That’s what we’re seeing this morning.”
“To the rest of the world 9-11 means New York. 9-11 to me means Kienan Hebert.”
The most troubling thing was that the caller, believed to be convicted sex offender Randall Hopley, 46, told police they could find the little boy in his own home, Moskaluk said.
“As we know the Hebert family has not been residing in the home since this incident happened. They’ve been staying at another location and then our officers entered the home and we found the child inside,” he sad.
Police tape was placed around the block where the Hebert home sits early Sunday morning. There are several homes nearby. Later in the day investigators were scouring the house once again for more forensic evidence.
No one saw Kienan taken some time last Wednesday morning and no one was there to document his return.
“Taking the child undetected and then placing him back undetected certainly is a chilling prospect,” Moskaluk admitted.
Police say only half of the job has been done. The next step is to try and contact Hopley and try and get him to turn himself in.
“Half of this is over now. Kienan’s with his family now and what we’ve got left to do is we need to speak to you. It’s very, very important that we speak to you Randy,” said Moskaluk.
“Our main concern now is for you to contact us. We need to talk to you about this and obviously the right thing was done here…Kienan’s back with his family. All I’m asking is you call police, reach out to us. Give us a call so we can talk to you about this. We want to help you. We want you safe and we need to help you.”
The news spread quickly throughout Sparwood, a coal mining town of about 4,000 surrounded on all sides by mountains.
“Great news!” said Dave Elliott, a neighbour who was among four or five people gathered outside a nearby house where the Hebert family has been staying.
The boy’s father, Paul Hebert, called his pastor shortly after Kienan was found Sunday morning.
Pastor Ron Rutley of the Sparwood Fellowship Baptist Church gave thanks for Kienan’s safe return in his Sunday morning sermon.
“It’s just like a dream. Lord we thank you that Kienan is home safe. We pray for him right now,” said Rutley.
“Lord we come before you with bittersweet hearts. Sweet for you have heard our prayers and answered them and bitter because we struggle to understand why those prayers had to be uttered at all.”
On Saturday, the boy’s parents brushed away tears as Moskaluk confirmed that their son was kidnapped from his home in this scenic close-knit mountain community. The boy has a history of sleepwalking, and many were hoping he had perhaps just wandered away.
Clasping his wife’s hand tightly under the table, Paul Hebert had a message for Kienan’s suspected captor, who police allege is Randall Hopley, 46, a convicted sex offender from the Sparwood area.
“We’re just asking, please bring Kienan to a safe place right now, OK? Like a gas station or store parking lot where he is visibly seen and you could just drop him off there okay? Walk away,” Hebert said quietly.
“We just want him safe. Kienan’s only three years old right now and as you know and we know Kienan can’t speak, so he can’t tell us who you are, right? This is your chance right now to get away. All we want is Kienan to come back with us and to be safe in our arms again.”
Police said a second abduction happened at another home on the evening Hebert went missing, when the suspect tried unsuccessfully to lure another child out of the home.
Moskaluk wouldn’t say when investigators discovered the other attempted abduction attempt or the age or sex of the child involved.
Hopley was convicted of sexual assault in the mid-1980s and was given a two-year federal prison sentence.
An incident in November 2007 led to charges of break and enter, unlawful confinement and attempted abduction, and the indictment for the case indicated the victim was under 16 years old.
B.C.’s Criminal Justice Branch has confirmed Hopley pleaded guilty to break and enter and was sentenced to 18 months in jail, while the other charges were stayed.
Crown spokesman Neil MacKenzie confirmed Hopley admitted at trial that he attempted to abduct a 10-year-old boy, who was in foster care at the time. Hopley claimed he was acting on behalf of the child’s parents.
A preliminary hearing has been set for Sept. 19 in Pincher Creek, Alta. According to a court official in Lethbridge, Hopley faces 12 charges dating back to May 2010 in Crowsnest Pass. They include break and enter and possession of stolen property.
Two of Hopley’s recent defence lawyers declined to comment.