07/16/2014 05:51 EDT | Updated 09/15/2014 05:59 EDT

Nathan O'Brien Missing: Civilian Search Party Scours Airdrie Fields

Volunteers from across three provinces and at least one U.S. state began a search party near Airdrie, Alta., on Tuesday to scour the rural area for any signs of Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, Kathy and Alvin Liknes. 

About 150 people from Alberta, Saskatchewan and B.C., as well as one traveller from Minnesota, combed meticulously through a search area that organizers of the civilian-led effort defined after a confidential phone call with police.

Calgary police have formally laid murder charges against 56-year-old Douglas Garland, who was initially questioned by police as a person of interest during the early stages of the investigation and arrested on Monday.

Garland was charged with two counts of first-degree murder in the deaths of Kathy and Alvin Liknes, and one count of second-degree murder in the death of Nathan O’Brien. Investigators say they believe all three are dead.

The spontaneous search came together Monday, when a group of parents in Airdrie posted a call out for volunteers on social media.

"I’m a grandmother, so I’ve had a terrible feeling in my stomach for the whole two weeks since this happened," said Jaimie Tessier, one of the organizers.

A local Safeway grocery store donated food and other supplies, which were supplemented by donations from concerned residents.

"We’re a community that sticks together," said Greg Dyki, a Safeway manager. "Family needs to know where family is and that’s why we’re here."

Kathy Keyes, a Minnesota woman who was passing through Alberta when she read the news about five-year-old Nathan O’Brien and his grandparents, told CBC News she felt she had to stop and help the search effort.

"It sounds like that little boy caught in the middle, and that’s the hard part," she said.

The trio of family members disappeared more than two weeks ago, and no sign of them has been found by police or the civilian searchers.

Organizers of the civilian search party said they will continue their work on Wednesday, and won’t stop until police advise them otherwise. 

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