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Alberta family pleads and petitions to keep BC mass murderer behind bars

WARNING: This article includes graphic details.

In 1982, George and Edith Bentley met their daughter Jackie and her husband Bob Johnson, along with their daughters, 13-year-old Karen and 11-year-old Janet Johnson, at a remote camping area in British Columbia.

They were killed by David Shearing, who shot the adults, then held the two young girls captive and sexually assaulted them before he shot the girls as well.

The six bodies were found in a burned vehicle in a remote area of Wells Gray Provincial Park.

Shearing was convicted of six counts of second-degree murder, sentenced to six concurrent sentences of life imprisonment without eligibility for parole for 25 years.

Read more:
Man responsible for one of B.C.’s most horrifying mass murders can apply for parole again in July

Shearing now goes by the last name of Ennis, and is up for full parole at a hearing in July. He is seeking to live within an hour of Bowden, where he’s incarcerated.

The family and friends of the Bentley and Johnson families have circulated a petition opposing his release.

Kristal Woolf is the great niece of Bob and cousin of Karen and Janet. Woolf lives in Airdrie, Alta., and she’s horrified that Ennis could be released, and even more disturbed he could be allowed to live close to her family.

“It’s something that I don’t want to happen to anyone else’s family,” Woolf said.

“And the fact that he could potentially be released one day — he’s in his sixties. He could do it again.”

Woolf said the murders destroyed her family and she doesn’t want anyone else to go through what her family has endured.

“I should never have to explain to my daughter what happened to what should have been her cousins and how some monster could do that to a child. I look at her and I can’t imagine that happening to her.”

Click to play video: Families of victims of notorious Johnson-Bentley murders fight killer’s parole application

Tammy Arishenkoff was a classmate of Karen and Janet and started a petition. Arishenkoff said that the family and their friends have been working for years to make sure that Ennis isn’t granted parole.

Arishenkoff said she hopes that the somehow the murdered victims know that their families and community continue to remember them and fight for them.

“I hope that they know that we’re never going to forget,” Arishenkoff explained.

“And that as hard as it is for us, it’s not as hard as what they had to go through.”

The number of names on the petition has far surpassed what the group was aiming for but it plans to continue to gather as much support as possible.

Shelley Boden, the niece of Bob and Jackie Johnson and cousin to Karen and Janet, said the family has struggled having to relive the horror of the murders at every parole hearing.

“We have to relive this monster coming back into our lives and bringing back nightmares and feelings and we can’t enjoy our memories.”

Boden said she thinks of her aunt, uncle and cousins every day.

“I wake up every day and say: ‘Hey, I’m here. I miss you and love you.’”

The group placed a April 15 deadline for signatures in order to gather all the materials needed to send to the parole board.

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