POLITICS

'We bleed again:' family of Shearing's victims dreading upcoming parole hearing

09/06/2012 04:05 EDT | Updated 11/06/2012 05:12 EST
CALGARY - Family members of the victims in a gruesome mass murder 30 years ago say they will never forgive the man serving a life sentence for the crime and want to ensure he is never released from prison.

David Shearing is making his second bid for parole in a hearing at the Bowden Institution in central Alberta later this month.

"It's just difficult for us. Every time he applies for parole it's like another scab has been ripped off and we bleed again," said Shelley Boden in a phone interview with The Canadian Press from her home in Tsawwassen, B.C.

Shearing, who now goes by Ennis, his mother's maiden name, Ennis, pleaded guilty to killing a family of six that were on a camping trip near Wells Gray Provincial Park in the interior of British Columbia in August 1982.

He shot and killed George and Edith Bentley, their daughter Jackie and her husband Bob Johnson. But he kept the Johnsons' daughters Janet, 13, and Karen, 11, alive for a few days and sexually assaulted them before taking them into the woods, one at a time, and killing them, too.

All six bodies were stuffed in the Johnsons' car, which was rolled down a hill and torched.

He received the maximum sentence of life without a chance at parole for 25 years.

Boden is the niece of Bob and Jackie Johnson and a cousin of Karen and Janet.

"We relive it every day and we have to relive it for the next five months when we get told that a hearing is coming up. We all go, 'Oh God, here we go again' and then we have to relive it all over again — the nightmare."

Shearing made a similar request for parole in 2008, but was denied. The board cited a number of unresolved problems and said he was diagnosed with mild indications of psychopathy.

"The board is concerned that you still struggle with pornography issues and have limited insight into the role substance abuse has contributed to both your sexual deviancies and violent offending,” the board said at the time.

The board also questioned whether Shearing understands the full impact of his crime.

"Although you verbalize accepting responsibility for your violent crimes, you minimize your actual actions until more closely challenged on different occasions by the board.

"Considering you have previously addressed these issues through programming/counselling, your continued minimization demonstrates a lack of insight and understanding of key factors that contributed to your offending."

Boden will read a statement to the parole board during the Sept. 18 hearing.

"What happened to my family will never go away and I live with it daily. As somebody that is involved with children (Girl Guides Canada for over 24 years) I have tried my best to show young women that they can live without fear even when some campfire monsters are real," it reads.

"Given my family background this was extremely difficult to do."

When the hearing was announced, a petition was started. Thousands of people have signed it in an attempt to prevent Shearing's release from prison.

Boden said she realizes the chances are slim that Shearing will released.

"Chances are no, but we just want to make sure he doesn't," she said.

"Our family needs to do this, otherwise he will slip through the cracks and off he goes into the public and he will reoffend.

"I don't forgive and I never will forget either."

Kelly Nielsen was 18 and just out of high school when she found out her relatives had been killed.

Now living in Surrey, B.C., she has a daughter about the same age as Janet was and it plays on her mind.

"It's never easy when you think about what happened because of the way that they died. Everything was horrible," she said.

"You can put it in the back of your mind for a while but it does come up every once in a while — you never forget."

She doesn't think that Shearing will get full parole and, like Boden, she isn't willing to forgive.

"I was raised Christian and you're supposed to forgive but I just can't," said Nielsen.

"When I think of the pain it has caused my mother that I had to watch. I just can't."