At a press conference on Tuesday afternoon, B.C. RCMP detailed some of the facts surrounding the disappearance (and return) of Kienan Hebert, as well as the arrest of 46-year-old Randall Hopley.
Hopley, the man suspected of kidnapping three-year-old Hebert, who was found safe at his home on Sunday, was arrested in Alberta on Tuesday morning.
Hopley was arrested three kilometres from the B.C. border, at a bible camp in the town of Crowsnest Pass, and was discovered by a K-9 unit from Kelowna. The RCMP said Hopley faces charges of kidnapping and abduction of someone under the age of 14.
His car was also found nearby.
The RCMP thanked the public for their patience and expressed relief over an unusual but extremely fortunate outcome.
“The speed with which Mr. Hopley was identified and the fact that the public were so aware and there was such great coverage by the media… I honestly believe that that made it very difficult for Mr. Hopley to move out of the area,” said Insp. Brendan Fitzpatrick, who added that those factors probably influenced the outcome of this case and stopped it from becoming a “worst-case scenario.”
“I can tell you that this is one of the best days that these investigators out here have seen,” said Fitzpatrick. “Watching the dedication that these members have put in, the ups and downs… putting their hearts and souls into this and to have that child found… was absolutely exhilarating.
“This morning, to tell the community that we’ve got this main in jail… is a very proud moment for the RCMP and each of these investigators.”
Also speaking with Insp. Fitzpatrick was Sgt. Lorne Craig, of the RCMP’s Elk Valley detachment.
“(We) would like to publicly recognize all those involved in the initial search for Kienan,” said Sgt. Craig. “Ultimately, it ended in a successful outcome.”
The RCMP said Hopley was arrested at 10 a.m. Tuesday morning, and there was an area of containment set up in the area in Crowsnest Pass.
Police received “promising information” on Monday that he may be in the area, based on their analysis. Insp. Fitzpatrick reiterated that there were no tips that cued them to the area.
Fitzpatrick also quelled rumours that there was an accomplice involved.
“I can tell you that the investigation to date has determined that Mr. Hopley acted alone,” he said. “The initial flurry… understandably, emotions are running high… there was some thought that somebody else had run from the area, but that proved to be wrong.”
At the press conference, the RCMP fielded questions about Kienan Hebert’s “mysterious” return to his house, however the officers refused to disclose too much information, for the sake of the investigation and the upcoming court proceedings.
“The probability that Kienan be returned to his residence was extremely low,” said Fitzpatrick. “It’s a virtually unprecedented situation… our research tells us that the longer a kidnap victim has not been returned, the higher chances of a worst-case scenario.
“On the balance of probabilities, it wasn’t going to be his house.”
Insp. Fitzpatrick also denied that Kienan’s return was a plan or a strategy on the part of the RCMP, or that there was a deal made with Hopley to facilitate the boy’s safe return to his house.
“I can tell you absolutely there was no deal made with Mr. Hopley, purely and simply,” he said.
There were also questions about why there was a “delay” in Alberta for that province to issue the Amber Alert, but the officers quickly denied that, too, saying that an Amber Alert has to meet certain criteria. The RCMP said that the Amber Alert went up in Alberta as soon as was possible, and that the coveragethere was “extensive.”
The officers on Tuesday also said that the media coverage in Alberta was as good as British Columbia’s, and sometimes better.
“No one had any sleep in those first few days,” said Sgt. Craig, speaking of Kienan’s disappearance. “To bring this together, I can’t ask for anything better than that.”
The RCMP said that Hebert had a history of sleepwalking, but that he has never left the house while doing so.