Did the police help Randall Hopley get Kienan Hebert home safe?

On the day Hopley was arrested, police insisted “there was no deal made”


It is impossible not to feel an odd gratitude toward Randall Hopley, the suspect in a child abduction case that captured Canada’s imagination last week. On Sept. 6, Kienan Hebert, a blond, plump-cheeked three-year-old with seven siblings, was tucked into bed in his home in Sparwood, a coal-mining town in B.C.’s southeast corner. When the family awoke, Kienan was gone. Suspicion quickly focused on 46-year-old Hopley, a local handyman with a record of property offences and an apparent unnatural interest in children.

Hopley was described as “borderline retarded” by one of his lawyers, yet he eluded police for days. At around 3 a.m. on Sunday, the boy was somehow returned to the temporarily unoccupied Hebert home without being detected. Kienan, found dozing in an armchair, was unharmed. He played Frisbee on his lawn the next morning.

The Heberts’ house is surrounded by empty lots, and unless “goat trails” count, there is just one road into the subdivision from either direction. It would be difficult to find a domicile more suitable for surveillance, but the police had no explanation for Hopley’s feat. RCMP spokesman Cpl. Dan Moskaluk called it “chilling” at first, but later hinted, “we facilitated [Kienan’s] return.”

Speculation filled Elk Valley. Had the Hebert house been under surveillance; if so, why wasn’t Hopley caught? Did the RCMP mess up, or did they give a child abductor a safe-conduct pass? Despite a head start, Hopley was captured by canine-equipped Mounties Tuesday morning at an abandoned house just across the Alberta border. Later that day, police insisted “there was no deal made.”

Kienan’s father, a good-natured real estate salesman, got his boy back unharmed. He was in no mood to criticize, but before Hopley’s capture, was exasperated. “Hopley is [at large] for a reason: because someone didn’t do their job right,” he told the Calgary Herald. “The judges and the system failed us.”

Hopley lost his father to a mining accident at age two, and school was a struggle. In 1985, at 21, he was convicted of sexual assault and served a year and a half in prison. In 2007, after more than a dozen break-and-enter convictions, he was caught bursting into the bedroom of a child in foster care. He pleaded guilty to a B and E, avoiding unlawful confinement charges.

A search of Hopley’s residence turned up children’s underwear for bedwetters, “cut to imitate [a] G-string.” In May 2010, a family in Crowsnest Pass found Hopley occupying their cabin, with stolen children’s clothing, photos of children and sex toys. He had apparently knocked out a wall and built a room that could be locked from outside.

Hopley was arrested again by Elk Valley RCMP in May of this year for assault and violating bail. His history presents a bizarre parallel with that of James Roszko, who murdered four Mounties near Mayerthorpe, Alta., in 2005. Hopley, one of life’s natural victims, could hardly be less like the violent Roszko in personality, but like Roszko, defied inattentive courts with impunity, shrugging off endless run-ins with police in a hinterland of hills and valleys.

Hopley’s community, like Roszko’s, proved unable to protect itself; only Hopley’s own mercy and remorse saved Kienan Hebert. Liberals wonder what lies behind the political hunger for “law and order” policy: mandatory minimum sentences, “truth in sentencing,” three-strikes laws, and the like. The answer lies in the localized anarchy left behind when the law nods, whether in metropolitan neighbourhoods or small towns.


Did the police help Randall Hopley get Kienan Hebert home safe?

  1. “Hopley’s community, like Roszko’s, proved unable to protect itself; only Hopley’s own mercy and remorse saved Kienan Hebert.”

    This is just lazy innuendo.  Why doesn’t McLean’s hire an actual writer for this story?  Surely both Kienan Hebert and Mr. Hopely deserve better.

    • “…lazy inneundo.”  Mr. Cooper, perhaps you should do some research….do you have any idea how long Mr. Hopley’s criminal record is?

  2. Im a father… I say no MERCY!  Throw this animal to the wolves in general population… A child molester that says he is sorry is still a child molester

    • We’ll have to wait for the trial but so far, given the boy was returned physically unharmed, kidnapping is likely the only charge that will come out of this. There sure seems to be a lot of circumstantial evidence pointing to molestation as the motive, but if he didn’t actually go through with it … well, you can’t charge him for the thoughts in his head, as long as that’s where they stay. If you could, we’d have to lock up the whole country, because I’m sure every one of us has given some thought to at least one illegal act over the course of our lifetimes. 

      Mind you, if the Crown can show that molestation was the motive behind the kidnapping, then – unrequited though that desire may have been – it could still be an aggravating factor in the sentencing (asuming he actually is found guilty of the kidnapping).

      • KeithBram, did you read the Saturday Globe and Mail about Mr. Hodley.  He should have been in jail for assault at the time of this kidnapping.  With his dozen plus B&E’s and previous sexual assault conviction plus the latest physical assault on a woman, I am guessing they are going to throw the book at him for abducting a toddler and holding him for many days.   As for the boy being “unharmed’, he may not be physically abused but there is “emotional trauma”, suffered not only by that little boy but by his whole family.  Now as for Mr. Hodley, he has apparently not been rehabilitated thus far but quite a few innocent people have been harmed by his actions.  I would be interested to know what you would suggest we as a society “do” with Mr. Hodley.

        • I’m by no means saying he’s not deserving of punishment for crimes he DID commit. I haven’t paid close attention to Hopley’s past offences, but I’m assuming Mike Alton is referring to the current incident when he calls Hopley a child molester – and unless the police have been lying about what was done to the boy, that is NOT something he is guilty of. All I’m saying is, we don’t need to make up additional charges; people should stick to the facts. (They’re bad enough.)

          • Well, he does have a conviction for sexual assault & he served a year & 1/2 for that.  Also, during one of his B & E’s, he broke into the room of a child.  I guess, the question people are asking is why do you have children’s pull-ups (diapers for toddlers) cut up to look like g-strings, children’s toys & sex-toys in your possession when you abduct a child IF you don’t plan some sort of sexual interaction involving either the child for visual stimulation or actually physically involving the child.  

          • OK; let’s go back to the start of the thread. Mike Alton called Hopley a child molester, and that he should be shown no mercy. I pointed out that there is no evidence yet that he has molested any children.

            That’s not to say he’s a good person, or that he should not be prosecuted for the crimes he has actually committed. Or that past crimes should not be taken into account when sentencing (assuming of course that he is actually found guilty; under our judicial system, there’s supposed to be a presumption of innocence until trial – something most of us all too often forget or ignore).

            Does the evidence indicate that Hopley has an obsession which could eventually lead to his molesting a child? Based on this article, I’d have to say Yes. But until he actually crosses the line and molests someone, the justice system cannot punish him as a molester.

            The fact that Hopley returned the boy without molesting him is a sign that there is hope for rehabilitation. Punish him for what he actually did, yes; but society should also be trying to help him get over this mental obsession so that, when he eventually does get out, he will be better prepared to resist those desires.

            Given your nom de plume, I would have thought you’d be a bit more focussed on treating his mental health issues and preventing him from traveling even further down the dark path he’s been on, rather than trying to punish him for a crime he has, so far, seriously considered but – as far as we know – managed to resist.

          • Sadly Keith, there are not a lot of treatments – mental health wise for people who are obsessed with kids to the point they abduct one.  There are not really really treatments for people who punch out women or break into houses either – some medications (psychiatric) do you work for people who have erratic/aggressive tendency but break & enter is not really that. 
            Something you and your “friends’ don’t seem to understand is that in mental health as in society, the concern is always that no harm comes to the innocent.  Therefore, people are committed to psychiatric facilities on a regular basis because of  concerns that they are a danger to not just themselves but others.  Sometimes, it is impossible to treat & rehabilitate certain conditions and you cannot in all good conscience, expose innocent children to someone who is dangerous to their wellbeing.  

          • My “friends”?

            The judicial system and jails are not the appropriate setting for dealing with the mentally ill.

            You are right that sometimes people with incurable mental conditions need to be kept away from society for the good of both themselves and others. Society long ago decided long-term mental facilities are too expensive, and the cost is a higher than necessary crime rate and the incarceration without adequate treatment of a large number of mentally ill.

            Again, to go back to the original assertion, that Hopley IS a child molester: as far as we know, he isn’t – yet. So we can’t try him for that. You seem to be hell-bent on allowing trials based on what someone MIGHT do. That’s just too Orwellian for me. Are you also in favour of Mike Alton’s solution – release him into the general prison population and let the other inmates finish him off?

            The preponderence of evidence, including his record, CAN be used to argue for a longer sentence, should he be convicted, for the protection of society. There may even be enough evidence to warrant “dangerous offender” status. Not the ideal solution, but sadly about the best our society currently offers.

            In the meantime, if I should ever need help for medical illness, I fervently hope I don’t end up in your care. Somehow, I picture you yelling “Jump! Jump!” at the person on the ledge.

          • I’m sorry Keith  if I referred to the other people on here who are more concerned about Mr. Hopley than his victims as your “friends”.
            As for this contention that Mr. Hopley has a “mental illness”, where is it coming from?  There is no indication that he is suffering from a mental illness.  Yes, he is being assessed for 30 days in a forensic psychiatric unit but that is standard procedure for someone accused of this type of crime.  There has been a suggestion by one of his lawyers that he has a low IQ and he did poorly in school but that is not a mental illness.
            I understand that you are dealing with what can be proven in court in regard to Mr. Hopley.  I am looking at what is pretty obvious….I am grateful he brought back that little 3 year old “apparently unharmed” but I am not willing to give him more opportunities to abduct other children.  You think a desire to protect vunerable people makes a person a bad nurse…….okay then.

    • Hey Mr. No Mercy, how would you feel if your son was accused, hunted and arrested for an “abduction” based on hearsay evidence, maybe because your son looked different or had a mental illness?  I’m not saying Hopley is innocent, but there’s a reason we have a court system. 

      I have kids too, and if it ever came down to it I expect them to be fairly treated by their community, the media, and the courts. 

      • Greg, do you believe Mr.Hopley was “accused, hunted and arrested for an ‘abduction’ based on hearsay evidence” and “because he “looked different”.  You don’t think his past criminal record for the sexual assault, the “more than A DOZEN break and enters and the bursting into a child’s bedroom” might have had something to do with it?  Also, you mentioned a history of ‘mental illness’ but the article did not say that.  It said that his lawyer described him as ‘borderline retarded’ but there is no mention even of formal IQ testing or results to indicate conclusively that he has low intelligence.
        Now, if I am not mistaken, I read somewhere that he was seen on a camera in a convenience store in the company of the little boy, while the boy was missing.  Surely, this indicates, the police had good reason to ‘suspect’ his involvement in the abduction.
        I understand that you want everyone to be treated fairly but I don’t think we should always assume that they aren’t being treated that way.

  3. I did not know people were tried in the press in Canada.  There is no report of any evidence that Hopley was involved in this situation.   Why was the home deserted?  WHO returned the boy?

  4. So what should we do with career criminals like this who just go in and out of jail until they die?

    Setup a penal colony on one of our islands in the arctic, they can’t rob anyone  or abduct anyone up there. And it would help our claims on the waters up there if one day it all melts and we discover lots of oil underneath.

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